Ovarian Cancer Awareness
Ovarian Cancer Awareness
March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It has been termed the silent killer, but there are signs to look out for and ways in which you can reduce your risk if you know how. That is what this post is all about. Ovarian cancer starts the same as all other cancers; uncontrollable cell multiplication resulting in a mass of tissue called a tumour. We are unsure of what exactly causes it, but there are a number of risk factors that make women more susceptible to ovarian cancer.
WHO IS AT INCREASED RISK OF OVARIAN CANCER?
- Women with a family history of ovarian cancer, be it mother, sister, grandmother, or aunt
- Genetic mutations on certain genes such as BRACA1 or BRAC2
- Personal history of cancer, specifically breast, uterine or colon
- Those on hormone replacement therapy
- Endometriosis patients
- No history of pregnancy
- Age of menstruation those who started menstruation at an early age and those that start menopause at a later age are at increased risk
OVARIAN CANCER SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Abdominal pain - Bloating - Fatigue - Increased urination - Lower back pain/pressure - Pain during sex - Pain before or after your period
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF OVARIAN CANCER
Its important to balance your hormones as an excess of oestrogen in the body can cause cell proliferation. Oestrogen is necessary to promote tissue and bone growth in the body, however too much can result in abnormal growth in the form of tumours, cysts, fibroids and also weight gain. Ovarian cancer, like breast cancer, is termed an oestrogen dominant cancer and therefore managing your oestrogen levels is key to minimising your risks. Typical signs that you may be oestrogen dominant include breast swelling and tenderness before your period, mood swings and decreased sex drive.
Reduce your oestrogen load:
Increase your intake of linseed (flaxseeds) these are a type of phytoestrogen food that has the ability to down regulate oestrogen levels. It works by blocking the oestrogen receptor sites thereby inhibiting oestrogen from binding and causing cell proliferation.
Reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens:
These are synthetic or natural chemical compounds that mimic oestrogen. Xenoestrgoetens can be found in: - Deodorants that contain aluminium (aluminium has oestrogen like effects). Choose a natural deodorant instead, such as Salt of the Earth deodorant. - Plastic water bottles drink from glass or stainless steel. Exposure to light or heat causes the plastic chemicals to leach into the water and produce oestrogen like effects. - Microwave foods the plastic that the food is packaged in, once heated, releases high levels of xenoestrgoens into your food canned foods these cans can be lined with BPA which is another xenoestrogen.
Increase your superfoods:
Drink green tea green tea contains a high level of catechins which are known to kill cancer cells preventing them from dividing and proliferating. It also contains high levels of antioxidants so drink daily protect yourself. Matcha green tea contains the highest levels of catechins. - Increase your intake of superfood greens such as spirulina, chorella and wheatgrass. Spirulina prevents oxidative damage which can lead onto cancer and it also induces cancer cell growth. Wheatgrass is really high in enzymes that weaken cancer cells and boost the immune system enabling you to fight off anything sinister. - Super-berries Goji berries are a particularly healthy berry as they are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Antioxidants work by scavenging free radicals before they can cause any damage in the body. If your body is low in antioxidants then free radicals can cause DNA damage, oxidative stress and mutated cells resulting in possible cancerous cells. Antioxidants are key to warning off any potential cancer cells.
Don't forget the power of herbs and spices:
Have ginger daily - it works on many levels firstly it is a great antioxidant keeping free radicals at bay. Secondly, it reduces inflammation which is a precursor to cancer. Lastly, studies have shown that it inhibits the growth and secretion of angiogenic factors which are key to take cells from a benign to malignant state. Take a daily powdered form, you can't have too much of this so add it to anything and everything from smoothies, to soups to curries.
Ginkgo Biloba - this is a powerful herb that is mainly recognised for its effectiveness at improving cognitive function, however it also plays a role in DNA repair and therefore is key to protecting against DNA mutations which lead to cancer.
Support your gut health: - Inulin powder is a form of prebiotic (food for your good bacteria). It is so important to encourage good bacteria to flourish as they keep the bad bacteria at bay and they also support the immune system including NK cells (natural killer cells) which fight off cancer cells. Take inulin in a smoothie or add it to soups and stews.
Eat or drink probiotic rich food - these foods and drinks are high in beneficial bacteria which support an optimal immune system making sure that cancer cells don't take off. Fermented drinks include kombucha and kefir and foods include sauerkraut and kimchi.
Reduce your sugar intake - sugar is food for the bad bacteria in your gut which we do not want to encourage growth of. Xylitol is a great sugar alternative as is date syrup. Try cooking and baking with these healthy alternatives, they taste great and don't leave you with the crash afterwards.
By making a few small adjustments to your diet and lifestyle from the recommendations above, you can make a big difference to reducing your risk of getting ovarian cancer. You don't have to do them all at once, just one at a time and build on them. You may also notice that you start to feel healthier and happier too.