Since tumors are often spotted too late for a cure, prevention is crucial
Black women may be able to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by eating a healthy diet, one that includes a higher intake of vegetables, seafood and plant proteins, according to a new study.
“As a high-quality diet is likely to have benefits for many chronic conditions, it is probably a safe bet for better health in general,” said study author Bonnie Qin, a postdoctoral associate at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
The study, which included 415 black women with ovarian cancer and a control group of 629 black women without the disease, analyzed information about the women’s dietary habits.
Though not designed to prove cause and effect, the study results showed those women with the healthiest diets were 34 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than those with the least healthy diets. Among postmenopausal women, those with the healthiest eating habits were 43 percent to 51 percent less likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer than those with the least healthy eating habits, researchers found.
With ovarian cancer, Qin said, prevention is key. “Because there is currently no reliable screening available for ovarian cancer, most cases are diagnosed at advanced stages,” she said. “That highlights a critical need for identifying modifiable lifestyle factors, including dietary interventions.”
More research is needed to determine if a general healthy diet, or just specific nutrients, contribute to reduced risk of ovarian cancer, Qin said.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women. Black women are less likely than white women to be diagnosed with the disease, but they are more likely to die from it. According to the American Cancer Society, about 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, and more than 15,000 women die of it.