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How can I help reduce my risk of ovarian cancer?

David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
Although there is no known method to prevent ovarian cancer, there are ways to significantly reduce the risk of developing this disease. They include:
  • Oral contraception: One non-contraceptive benefit of oral contraceptives may be protection against ovarian cancer. The use of oral contraceptives for a total of at least five years can significantly decrease a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer by up to 60%. This includes women with an inherited breast cancer gene (BRCA) mutation that places them at greater risk of ovarian cancer. The use of oral contraception need not be for five years consecutively, but rather for a total of five years.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: The risk of developing ovarian cancer decreases if a woman has had at least one child prior to the age of 30. Also, breastfeeding each child for at least three months may decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Tubal ligation: Although this procedure seems to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer, the reason for the decreased risk is unknown. Tubal ligation should be performed for valid medical reasons and not solely to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO): Removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes eliminates the risk of developing ovarian and fallopian tube cancer. Among women who have undergone a BSO, 1% to 3% may develop primary peritoneal carcinoma, which is a distinct malignancy from ovarian cancer.
  • Oophorectomy in conjunction with hysterectomy: A hysterectomy alone will slightly reduce a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer. A BSO during a hysterectomy eliminates the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women over age 50 who are having a hysterectomy should discuss the option of a simultaneous BSO.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Ovarian cancer is one of the fastest growing and deadliest cancers. In this video, Dr. Oz and Dr. Donnica Moore reveal the not-so-secret diet ingredients that can greatly reduce your risk for ovarian cancer.


Scott Weissman
Clinical Genetics
A well-balanced diet and exercise can help prevent cancers from occurring. With respect to ovarian cancer (OC) specifically, it has been shown that oral contraceptive (birth control pills) use can reduce the risk of developing OC by 50% with 5 years use. Having full-term pregnancies has also been shown to reduce the risk of OC by at least 15%. Lastly, having a tubal ligation has been shown to reduce the risk by at least 40%. Ultimately, if someone is at high risk of OC either due to strong family history or positive genetic test result (i.e., a hereditary risk), the best thing to do is remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes once childbearing is complete or sometime after the age of 35.

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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.