Thursday, January 21, 2010

Countdown to Kelly Ripa, day 19: What we can do to prevent ovarian cancer

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Only 19 days left to gain some serious skills in the art of cake decorating. In less than three weeks I'll be in New York with 14 other Foodbuzz Featured Publishers, decorating cakes with Kelly Ripa and Electrolux to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

We've learned a bit more about the event: The bloggers will be working in teams of three, and photos of our cakes will be posted on Kelly Confidential for you to vote on. My teammates are Jessie from Cakespy and Kelly from Evil Shenanigans - lucky for me I've been paired with two women who know A LOT more about cake decorating than I do. Let's just hope they're the bossy types.

Anyway, after making cupcakes, tackling my pastry bag, and experimenting with royal icing, it's time for a break. So today I'm learning more about ovarian cancer. Specifically, what we women can do to reduce our chances of getting it.

It seems clear that there are ways to lower our risk for ovarian cancer, especially for those who have strong family histories of the disease. According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and oncologychannel.com, here are a few:
  • Take the Pill. Using oral contraceptives can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer 40 to 50 percent, especially if you're on the Pill for five years or more. On the down side, some experts believe that for those women with BRCA genetic mutations, the Pill can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, so it's not a panacea.
  • Have babies, not too late, and breast-feed. Women who have been pregnant are 30 to 60 percent less likely to get ovarian cancer than women who haven't. The risk is lower still if you have your first child before the age of 30 (oh well, I missed out on that one). Breast-feeding also seems to offer some protection. Doctors acknowledge that this shouldn't be the driving factor in making reproductive decisions, but if you're in a stable relationship and planning to have kids anyway, seems like it's worth considering.
  • Get your tubes tied. They're not sure why this works - one theory is that it prevents carcinogens that enter through the vagina from reaching the ovaries - but tubal ligation (after you're done having kids, of course) does seem to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Get screened if you're high risk. If anyone in your immediate family has had ovarian cancer - mother, sister, aunt, grandmother - your risk is elevated. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of genetic screening, and ask what tests can be done to watch for the earliest signs of the disease. 
A personal note here: Two of my closest friends have had breast cancer, found out they were BRCA-positive, and elected to have their ovaries removed prophylactically. It's not a decision every woman would make, but they'd already had their kids, and they knew that removing their ovaries would significantly reduce their chances of both ovarian cancer and more breast cancer. For them, it was the right decision.
  • Eat a low-fat diet, reduce meat consumption, and maintain a healthy weight. This does seem to be the most popular all-around preventative measure for a number of illnesses, so it's probably worth taking seriously. 
For my part, I'm trying to eat less meat. But I've always struggled with my weight, and right now, in that battle, I'm pinned against the wall with my sword across the room. In other words, I'm pretty fat. How to change that? I'll let you know when and if I figure out the magic formula. Meantime, I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I exercise when I can, I don't smoke at all and don't drink much, and I get enough sleep. We do what we can.

Here's what else we can do: Support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, so they have more money to give to the scientists who are working hard to find early detection methods and even a cure for this horrible disease. Shop in their online store, sign up to volunteer, ride in or volunteer for the Ovarian Cycle bikeathon, or just donate. Every dollar helps. And thanks for being part of the solution.

1 comment:

tubal reversal said...

this is a very informative blog to prevent and fight against ovarian cancer.

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