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Ovarian Cancer Causes

Ovarian cancer causes are difficult to pinpoint in a particular case , but there are a few epidemiological facts that help the understanding of what may have been contributing to it.

It appears that hormonal imbalance can play a role in terms of triggering oncogenes that transform normal ovarian cells into cancer cells. For instance, women who never had a child or women with a history of infertility have a higher incidence of ovarian cancer.

The more children a women has, the less likely she will develop ovarian cancer to the point where the risk can drop to only 33% of their counterparts who never had children. Even women who use contraceptives experience a 25% risk reduction down to a risk of 75% of women without children or women who do not take the birth control pill. All of these epidemiological facts are pointers that hormones play a role in the development of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Causes (Women With Several Children Have Less Risk Of Ovarian Cancer)

Ovarian Cancer Causes (Women With Several Children Have Less Risk Of Ovarian Cancer)

Japanese women have the lowest ovarian cancer rate in the world. However, Japanese women who migrate to the US will lose this advantage of low ovarian cancer rates only within 2 or 3 generations. It appears that food habits (fat intake among others) and perhaps some environmental factors (effects of alcohol) play an important role in triggering the development of ovarian cancer.

Genetic factors regarding ovarian cancer

Genetic factors are known to play a role in only 5% to 10% of all cases. Among them are hereditary ovarian cancers, breast-ovarian cancer syndrome and the Lynch II syndrome. This is a combination of Lynch I hereditary colon cancer and a high risk for ovarian, breast and uterine cancers. These syndromes are the result of a genetically dominant constellation.


There has been NO association between ovarian cancer and coffee or tobacco use, but there IS an increased risk with alcohol consumption (Ref. 1 and 2).




1.  V.T. DeVita et al. : Cancer- Principles & Practice of Oncology, Vol.1, 4th edition. J.B.      Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, USA, 1993. Ovarian cancer chapter.

2. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T.     DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Ovarian cancer chapter.

3. S Ginath et al. Int J Oncol 2001 Jun;18(6):1133-1144.

4. Y.-L. Hu et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 2001 May 16;93(10):762-767.

5. MKTuxen et al. Br J Cancer 2001 May;84(10):1301-1307.

6. U Wagner et al. Clin Cancer Res 2001 May;7(5):1154-1162.

7. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

8. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: November 29, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.