Losing weight can lower your risk of gynecological cancers

Weight loss, among all its health benefits, including lowering your risk for heart disease in the long-term as well as daily benefits, such as supporting your day-to-day life and routine with good nutrition and taking care of yourself and your body, has another very important benefit: weight loss can reduce your risk of getting gynecological cancers.


After all the tried-and-true articles about weight loss, in today’s post, we talk about a lesser known, but critical to women’s health fact about weight loss: weight loss can reduce women’s risk of getting gynecological cancers. 


Carrying excess weight on your body increases women’s risk for getting cancers unique to women--these are called “gynecological cancers”--which include uterine and breast cancers. Memorial Sloan Kettering is working on a study that considers weight reduction as a secondary form of therapy to reduce breast cancer coming back for women already diagnosed with the disease. Research from the past several years shows over half of endometrial cancers are attributed to obesity, and, in the U.S., obesity rates among women are rising. 


Why does WHP feel this PSA is so important? Research from this same study confirms that, when over 1,500 healthy women were surveyed, over half of them did not know obesity put them at increased risk for endometrial cancer. We talk about this on our WHP blog a lot: women, get informed--for yourself, for your friends, for your loved ones, and for the health of women overall. One woman’s knowledge is powerful for themselves and when it gets passed on, more so.

We know weight is a factor in increasing women’s risk for gynecological cancers, so here are some of our guidelines for losing weight. First, find a friend: get a support system. Don’t underestimate the power of having someone by your side, cheering you on, who understands the challenge losing weight can pose. Learn: figure out, for your body type, BMI, and lifestyle, around how many calories you should consume daily and how active you need to be to sustain your ideal weight. Exercise: it does a body so good! Even putting one step in front of the other, good ole’ walking, has great health benefits when combined with healthy eating. Be kind: keep your goals upfront and try to enjoy life, including other people, while you watch the scale. No one gets anything worthwhile done, in a wholesome way, at least, by beating themselves down along the way. 


There are other options women can consider to decrease their chances of gynecological cancers. Taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 40%. Research shows women who use oral contraceptives for five or more years have an approximately 50% lower risk for developing ovarian cancer opposed to women who did not take oral contraceptives. There are surgical options as well--WHP recommends removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes to surgically reduce ovarian cancer risk. Removing the fallopian tubes reduces ovarian cancer risk because we now know some ovarian cancers begin the tubes. 


Getting older, having a family history of gynecological cancers, or not having access readily to healthcare and health consultants makes facing gynecological cancers trickier, but there are options and help is available. You have the power to make yourself as healthy as possible--you deserve it. Check out the Care Women Deserve campaign nationally and this article for a more international grouping of women’s health organizations.


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