Related Topics: Cancer, Opinion

Will Removal of the Ovaries Cut Your Cancer Risk?

Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer should have their ovaries taken out when they are 40, a leading scientist has stated.

AnnA Rushton

Drastic measures indeed. As this statement was reported in the press this week it promoted yet another piece of misinformation about natural hormones. A national newspaper reported that “the threat is cut as the organs produce the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone which trigger the growth of tumours in the breast and ovaries.”

This is not true. Yes we know the role of oestrogen in promoting cancers and those warnings are well heeded, but to link progesterone as triggering tumours is simply wrong, inaccurate and misinformed. What we do know is that progesterone has a balancing action to counter the effects of oestrogen and has never in any way been linked to cancer or tumour growth.

I can understood women’s concern, because although breast cancer survival rates have improved, those for ovarian cancer have not. Less than half of such patients survive more than 6 years. As many women do carry the gene which increases their risk of such cancers they must obviously do all they can to ensure their future health. However, a simple precaution like establishing their hormone levels and eliminating oestrogen dominance by countering it with natural bio-identical progesterone supplementation is surely a better first step?

The expert suggesting this is Professor Evans of the University of Manchester who said the operation would be worth it, despite bringing on an early menopause and ending childbearing. Quite rightly he points out that “At the moment, they can’t rely on screening. Once they’ve completed their family and if they are over 40, they should consider having their ovaries removed.”

However the problem remains that once the ovaries are removed progesterone production ceases and leaves the woman at risk of oestrogen dominance and the attendant problems this brings. Unless adequate protection is given through ensuring optimum progesterone levels the woman is still exposed to risk from cancer and heart disease.

If removing the ovaries will improve a woman’s survival chances from ovarian cancer, which is difficult to spot and often identified and treated too late, then of course it must be considered but please ensure that you don’t also leave yourself at future risk of osteoporosis and the other serious conditions associated with oestrogen dominance.

If you are concerned about ovarian cancer, these symptoms will help you identify problems when they first start. Talk to your doctor if the following symptoms are persistent, even if they seem trivial:

  • General abdominal discomfort or pain (gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, cramps)
  • Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation or frequent urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of fullness or abdominal swelling after a light meal
  • Weight gain or loss with no known reason
  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina
  • Pelvic pressure (a feeling that one needs to urinate or defecate all the time)
  • Constant back or leg pain

A pelvic exam and an ultrasound can determine whether the ovaries require further evaluation.

PS – a simple way to reduce breast cancer risk has been reported by researchers from Marshall University in West Virginia.  In the journal Nutrition and Cancer they state that small amounts of walnuts eaten daily can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in women.

Walnuts are a naturally great tasting source of healthy Omega-3 fats, minerals, vitamins and protein that have long been associated with good health. Interestingly, it is not only the potent dose of Omega-3 fats that are responsible for the risk reduction, but also a synergistic effect between multiple nutrients provided by the nut.

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