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Can ovarian cancer be prevented?

By Nancy Kupka, PhD, RN Oct 28, 2022 • 2 min

There are some known risk factors for ovarian cancer, and there are several considerations that may reduce the risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, which is the most common type of ovarian cancer.

Much less is known about ways to lower the risk of other types of ovarian cancers. Epithelial ovarian cancers develop from the outer surface of the ovary, peritoneum or fallopian tube. Although the cause of these tumors is not well known, there does not appear to be a genetic predisposition.

Some of these strategies lower your risk only slightly, while others lower it much more, and some strategies require surgery. Factors that may reduce your risk of ovarian cancer include:

  • Using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) long-term—for 4 years or more
  • Giving birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Avoiding hormone replacement therapy after menopause
  • Having certain surgeries, such as tubal ligation (tying and severing the fallopian tubes), salpingectomy (removing the fallopian tubes), or sallpingo-oophorectomy (removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes)

The impact of diet, infertility treatments, alcohol consumption, aspirin use, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or talc use on ovarian cancer is unclear. However, the effects of a healthy lifestyle, such as a diet with less saturated fat, not smoking and regular exercise can help prevent several other diseases, including some other types of cancer.

Clinically reviewed and updated by Julie McDaniel, MSN, RN, CRNI, October 2022.