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September 4, 2014 | 2 minute read

For Women: Reducing Your Cancer Risk

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and with breast cancer awareness a few weeks away, it’s a good time to highlight how women can reduce the risk of many of the most common cancers.

Screenings play an important role in prevention and/or early detection. And so does lifestyle. For each of the cancers listed, AICR research shows that what women weigh, eat, and how much they exercise play a role in reducing the risk.

Ovarian Cancer

  • The most deadly gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer is often not diagnosed until its late stages.
  • For the first time, AICR research found that obesity links to increased risk for this cancer.
  • 5 percent of US ovarian cancers can be prevented by being a healthy weight.

Breast Cancer

  •  Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States.The majority of breast cancers occur in women after menopause.
  •  For postmenopausal cancers, excess body fat, adult weight gain and alcoholic drinks increase risk; breastfeeding and daily physical activity lower risk.
  •  AICR estimates that 38 percent of breast cancers are preventable by being active and a healthy weight.

Colorectal Cancer

  •  Colorectal cancer rates have dropped over the past decade, mainly attributed to increased screenings. It still remains the third leading cause of cancer death in women.
  • Excess body fat is one of the strongest factors that increases risk; abdominal fatness is also a risk factor.
  • Other factors that increase risk are eating processed meats and high amounts of red meat and drinking alcohol; factors that lower risk include foods with fiber, garlic and milk, along with daily moderate physical activity
  • Half of US colorectal cancers can be prevented through diet, activity and being a healthy weight.

Endometrial Cancer

  • Cancers in the endometrium begin in the uterine lining. This is one of the most preventable cancers by diet, weight and exercise.
  • Drinking coffee – whether decaffeinated or caffeinated – reduces the risk, along with daily moderate activity.
  • Excess body fat and a high-glycemic-load diet increases risk
  • An estimated 59 percent of US endometrial cancers can be prevented by being active and a healthy weight.

For more information on the latest research on diet, physical activity and weight on cancer risk visit the Continuous Update Project.

Visit the National Cancer Institute for more information on screening and other factors that play a role in reducing cancer risk.

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