Blogs     Women's Health    

Ovarian Cancer: Facts and Prevention

Focusing on prevention

Dr Padma Garvey/Plant-Based Doctor Mom Cancer: Facts and Prevention

Ovarian cancer rates increase as a woman gets older.  While ovarian cancer can occur in young women, this is extremely rare, and by and large, ovarian cancers tend to occur in postmenopausal women.  Since 2003, the incidence of ovarian cancer has decreased steadily in the United States and worldwide because of oral contraceptive usage.  Using oral contraceptives, for even three months, can decrease a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by 80%, and the reduction effect lasts for about thirty years after you stop the pill. (,

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect early.  By the time a mass is felt on a pelvic exam or by the time a patient has symptoms related to ovarian cancer, like bloating, weight loss, or abdominal pain, the cancer is already advanced.  Unlike mammograms for breast cancer screening which can pick up tiny specks of breast cancer, ultrasounds will not detect tiny specks of ovarian cancer but rather can pick up larger masses of ovarian cancer.  There are some very distinctive characteristics of ovarian cancer on ultrasounds so any and all ovarian cysts are not necessarily cancer.  In fact, the ovaries have one job to do…..make cysts that carry the egg when a woman ovulates.  So finding a cyst on an ovary is a very common occurrence.  At the time of this blog, there is no blood test for ovarian cancer screening.  There is a blood test that can be helpful in deciding if an abnormal ovarian cyst is cancer or not.  But we should not do this test routinely on everybody because doing so would actually cause harm to more women than it would help.

New scientific evidence suggests that what we call ovarian cancer is really not from the ovaries at all but rather from the fallopian tubes.  For this reason, women who are considering having their tubes tied for birth control are offered tube removal instead as a way to decrease their risk for ovarian cancer. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the United States.  Compare that to the fact that 300,000 women die from heart disease every year in the United States, making a woman ten times more likely to die from heart disease than ovarian cancer. 


Lots of evidence suggests that there is a link between a high fat, low fiber diet and ovarian cancer.  Studies from the British Journal of Cancer (2002) and the International Journal of Cancer (2001), whose links are below,  show that the more beans, lentils, fruits, and vegetables a woman ate, the lower her risk for ovarian cancer.  Note that this same diet decreases your risk for heart disease.

For more information and recipes:

Other articles by Padma Garvey