Ovarian Cancer: No Smoke, Alcohol Link
Smoking and Drinking May Not Affect Ovarian Cancer Risk, and Caffeine Might Help
Jan. 22, 2008 -- Smoking and drinking may not make ovarian
cancer more likely, and caffeine may cut ovarian
That finding comes from a new ovarian cancer study of more than
110,000 U.S. female nurses who were followed for nearly 30 years.
The nurses completed health and smoking surveys every two years. Most also
surveys every four years.
During the study, 737 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Drinkers, current smokers, and former smokers weren't more likely than
teetotalers and lifelong nonsmokers to develop ovarian cancer.
There was one exception. A certain type of ovarian cancer called mucinous
tumors was about twice as common among current or former smokers than among
women who never smoked. The reason for that pattern isn't clear, since few
women developed such tumors.
Caffeine and Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer was rarer among caffeine users than among women who never
Women with the highest caffeine intake -- equivalent to more than three
daily cups of coffee -- were 20% less likely to develop ovarian cancer,
compared with women with the lowest caffeine intake. Ovarian cancer was even
rarer among caffeine users who had never used birth
control pills or postmenopausal hormone therapy.
Caffeinated coffee -- but not tea or cola -- was associated with decreased
risk of ovarian cancer.
For instance, women who drank at least three daily cups of caffeinated
coffee were 25% less likely to get ovarian cancer than women who never drank
But the researchers -- who included Harvard Medical School's Shelley
Tworoger, PhD -- aren't telling women to go for caffeine for ovarian cancer prevention.
Observational studies such as this one don't prove cause and effect. That
is, Tworoger's team didn't test caffeine for ovarian cancer prevention.
Ovarian Cancer Facts
Ovarian cancer is the most deadly cancer of the female
reproductive system. Its high death rate is partly due to the lack of
early detection and screening tests.
In June 2007, three cancer organizations -- the American Cancer Society, the
Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists --
warned women about possible symptoms of ovarian cancer.
In a joint statement, those cancer organizations urged women to see a doctor
if they have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urge or frequency)
Those symptoms aren't always due to ovarian cancer, which often doesn't have
any early symptoms.