Reducing Ovarian Risks

Reducing Ovarian Risks

When Angelina Jolie discovered she had the genetic mutation BRCA-1, she was told she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. She then decided to have a double mastectomy. But her genetic red flag—along with BRCA-2—isn’t just a marker for increased breast cancer risk; it’s also a risk factor for hard-to-spot ovarian cancer.

Around 39 percent of women with BRCA-1 and 11-17 percent of those with BRCA-2 will develop ovarian cancer by age 70.

Now, a new study reveals that if you’re BRCA-positive and have your ovaries removed before age 35, you reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 80 percent. So, if you’re a young woman planning on having children and have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, discuss genetic testing with your doc. And if you’re BRCA positive, you may want to step up your childbearing timetable.

If you have your ovaries removed before age 35, you’ll experience premature menopause.

Here's how you can control or avoid menopause symptoms:

  • Cool hot flashes and sweats with physical activity. We love walking (aim for 10,000 steps daily) or enjoy cycling, swimming, and jogging (one minute of these activities equals 100 steps).

If you’re overweight, to ease hot flashes and sleep disruption, lose 10% of your weight. How? Eat nine servings of fruits and veggies daily; avoid red meat; and eat skinless poultry and omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon and sea trout.

​​Related: Should You Have Genetic Testing for Cancer Risks?

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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