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Exercise May Cut Ovarian Cancer Risk

Benefit Reported With Moderate but Not Vigorous Physical Activity

Data Details

The study has some limits. Self-reports can be flawed. Women may have mistakenly described their activity level "moderate" instead of "vigorous," say the researchers.

The questionnaires didn't cover the length of activity sessions, so there's no word on how long a woman would have to walk, for example, to get any ovarian cancer benefit.

About 20% of the patients the researchers wanted to include had already died, couldn't be located, or their physicians refused to contact them about the study. Of those who were contacted, nearly one in four (24%) did not return the questionnaire.

"This low response rate among cases was largely due to the poor prognosis of ovarian cancer, and it could affect the generalization of our results," write researchers.

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer among women (not counting skin cancer) and women's No. 4 cause of cancer death, says the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The disease often has few early symptoms. Only about a quarter of cases are found at an early stage, when the chances of successful treatment are best, says the ACS.

Recently, other researchers reported progress in developing a blood test to screen high-risk women for ovarian cancer. But that test is not yet ready for widespread use.

At-Risk Women

Any woman can develop ovarian cancer. Women at high risk (such as those with a strong family history of the disease) may be screened with ultrasound and blood tests, says the ACS.

That's all the more reason to know your family's medical history, share it with your doctor, follow screening guidelines, and ask questions about any health concerns.

Other risk factors can include never being pregnant, decreased fertility, and delayed childbearing in women who have not used oral contraceptives. Some studies have also linked the use of fertility drugs to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

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