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How can I reduce my risk of uterine cancer?

Here are five steps that may dramatically reduce your risk of uterine cancer: 
  • A Pill a Day -- The use of birth control pills for at least 12 months decreases the risk of uterine cancer by a whopping 50-80 percent. This protection lasts for 15 years after pill use is discontinued.
  • Choose an Intrauterine Device (IUD) -- You may be familiar with an intrauterine device as a method of contraception, but the progestin in the Mirena IUD also has a number of non-contraceptive benefits. A little known fact is that the Mirena IUD decreases the risk of hyperplasia (an abnormal thickening of the uterine lining), which in many cases is a precursor to uterine cancer.
  • Question Your Kin -- If you have multiple family members with colon cancer and/or uterine cancer, genetic testing could be lifesaving, not only for you, but also for your entire family. Carriers of hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, known as Lynch syndrome, have a 27-71% chance of developing uterine cancer as opposed to the 3% in the general population.
  • Lower Your Weight to Lower Your Risk -- Fat cells produce estrogen, so obese women are at an increased risk for uterine and breast cancer. Higher body mass index (BMI) not only increases the rate of developing endometrial cancer (uterine cancer), but is associated with an increased death rate as well.
  • Pick Your Progestin -- It has been known since the 1970s that taking estrogen therapy without adequate progestin increases the risk of uterine cancer almost tenfold. If you are taking estrogen for relief of menopausal symptoms (and have a uterus), it is crucial to take an appropriate progestin to protect the lining of the uterus. "Bioidentical" progestin creams have not been shown to offer adequate protection in spite of claims by compounding pharmacies. The progestin molecule is too large to be absorbed through the skin, which is why all the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved progestins are in pill form. (Note: A progestin is not necessary if you are using vaginal estrogen.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.