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Ovarian Cancer Health Center

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Exercise May Cut Ovarian Cancer Risk

Benefit Reported With Moderate but Not Vigorous Physical Activity
WebMD Health News

May 16, 2005 -- Moderate exercise may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, the leading cause of gynecological cancer death.

The news comes from a Canadian study in The International Journal of Cancer's online edition. Women weren't asked to work out. Instead, they completed surveys about their activities.

Moderate physical activity was associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer. Vigorous exercise didn't raise or lower ovarian cancer risk, the study shows.

Ovarian cancer has few symptoms and is often diagnosed late. It has a poor prognosis because of the advanced stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. While there are a few risk factors which increase its risk, identifying modifiable risk factors could reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Benefits of Being Active

Exercise has already been shown to guard against colon and breast cancers, say the researchers, who included Sai Yi Pan of Canada's Public Health Agency. Previous research on ovarian cancer had mixed results, they say.

Pan's study analyzed data from 442 women with ovarian cancer and 2,135 women of similar backgrounds who did not have ovarian cancer. They were 20-76 years old.

Questionnaires asked how many times per month they walked, jogged, ran, gardened, swam, skied, skated, bowled, took exercise classes, or did other activities. Age, number of children, diet, and use of alcohol and cigarettes were also noted.

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