5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Ovarian Cancer

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.  It is estimated that 22,240 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013 and there will be 14,030 deaths from the disease this year. Learn everything you need to know about Ovarian Cancer.  

As an oncology nutrition specialist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston, MA for the past 13 years, I have worked with many ovarian cancer survivors.  The team at Reboot with Joe asked me to come up with a list of Top 5 nutrition tips to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer:

1.) Watch Your Waistline
Obesity is a risk factor for developing ovarian cancer and also increases the risk of death from the disease.  Excess body fat especially during teenage years is of particular risk for young women.

Tip:  Eating a healthy plant-based diet, avoiding smoking, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce cancer risk.

2.) Eat More Veggies
One research study found that women with a high level of vegetable intake had a significantly lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.  This risk decreased by 10% for each added serving of veggies maintained day to day.  Go veggies!

Tip:  Make sure at least 50% of your plate is full of vegetables and choose at least a few meals where veggies make up 100% of your plate!  Check out these Meatless Monday recipes that are delicious everyday of the week.

3.) Cut Down on Sugar
Research is demonstrating that sugary beverages and overall sugar intake may play a role in ovarian cancer risk.  While drinking tea, without the sugar of course, may help reduce risk.

Tip:  Replace that morning or afternoon coffee or soda that’s loaded with sugar with a cup of green tea, herbal tea or veggie heavy fresh juice. Some favorites full of cancer fighting foods include,

Twist of Lime and Fennel Juice
Super Green Detox Juice
Rainbow Summer Juice

4.) Limit Dairy
Dairy or excessive calcium consumption, including supplements, may increase risk of certain types of ovarian cancer in some women.

Tip:  Choose calcium rich veggies like kale, beet greens and broccoli or calcium fortified non dairy milks like unsweetened coconut or almond.  Reconsider if you need to take calcium supplements.  Having an adequate Vitamin D blood level may help reduce ovarian and other cancer risk, but you can take Vitamin D pills separately from calcium.

5.) Include Fresh Juice in Your Diet
If you currently have Ovarian Cancer, for some women, symptom management and keeping weight on can be a struggle during treatment and staying hydrated can be a challenge as water often tastes metallic or generally terrible.  Constipation is common and as this type of cancer progresses, risk for bowel obstruction can become a serious concern for some women.

Tip:  Including fresh juice as part of a healthy, balanced diet, offers a way for women with ovarian cancer to maintain hydration and keep up nutrient intake and for those at risk for bowel obstruction, to maintain their fruit and vegetable intake, because the insoluble or “roughage/high residue forming” fibers are removed.  Download Dana Farber’s new, free Nutrition App that I worked on, for more helpful hints and recipes. Even if you don’t have Ovarian Cancer, juice is an excellent way to keep your body full of nutrients.

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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