Your Biggest Cancer Risks: Ovarian, Pancreatic and Stomach Cancers

Reduce your risk by recognizing and changing your risk factors for some of the most easily missed cancers.

Posted on

Learn about some daily deadly habits that could be increasing your risk for certain easily-missed cancers.

From This Episode:

What's Your Cancer Risk?

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women between the ages of 35 and 74. Due to a lack of effective screening methods, this cancer is discovered in women at advanced stages, which is associated with poor survival. It is vital for women to recognize the warning signs of ovarian cancer and talk with their doctor about them.

It’s also important to reduce your risk by recognizing and changing your risk factors, which include having belly fat. Women who are 25 or more pounds overweight have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Obese women have a 30% higher risk of ovarian cancer compared to those with a healthy weight. Furthermore, consuming dairy products also has been shown to increase one’s risk of ovarian cancer. Lactose, found in most dairy food, has been hypothesized to promote cancer growth. Studies have found that people who ate 30 grams of lactose a day increased their ovarian cancer risk by 20%. That’s one glass of milk or one cup of ice cream!

On the other hand, birth control pills have been shown to be protective against ovarian cancer. One study found that taking the pill for 15 years or more cut a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by 58%. In fact, even women who took the pill for only 1-4 years were found to have a 22% lower risk of ovarian cancer. Another important ovarian cancer-fighting solution: fiber. A large study revealed that women who ate a high fiber diet (38-77 grams/day) had a greater than 20% reduction in their risk of ovarian cancer compared to those with low fiber intake. Fiber lowers the production of sex hormones, which then decreases one's risk of ovarian cancer. Read more about what fiber-rich foods are good for you.

More Information:


Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly diseases. It’s difficult to diagnose, so it’s often not found until it’s quite advanced. It also spreads quickly, and is notoriously resistant to many of the chemotherapy and radiation treatments currently available. Only about 3% of people with pancreatic cancer live more than 5 years after diagnosis. Despite the relatively small number of people who are diagnosed, it’s still the fourth most common cancer killer.

One important preventable risk factor for pancreatic cancer is soda and alcohol consumption. Several studies have connected pancreatic cancer with increasing soda consumption. One study looked at soda consumption and pancreatic cancer risk in over 60,000 subjects and found that individuals consuming two or more sodas a week had a higher risk for pancreatic cancer compared to those who didn’t drink soda. With regard to alcohol, an analysis from the Cancer Prevention Study found that those who drank more than three or more drinks per day had a high risk of dying from pancreatic cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two drinks for men.

Other studies are connecting pancreatic cancer with certain types of oral bacteria. Having dental diseases like periodontitis has been linked with systemic diseases, including pancreatic cancer. The connection isn’t clear, but experts believe that it relates to chronic inflammation. The best way to help prevent this would be to brush and floss vigilantly twice a day and get your teeth professionally cleaned at your dentist’s office every 6 months.

Warning signs of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Digestive problems
  • Light-colored stools
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

 More Information:

Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer strikes about one million people each year. It is especially common in other parts of the world – in Asia, in particular  – and it was something we thought we did not have to worry about in the US. However, recent reports have uncovered a disturbing new trend – a surprising rise in stomach cancer rates among young people in the US, especially among African Americans and Latinos.

One of the most dangerous risk factors for stomach cancer is a bacteria called H. Pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers and aggravate your stomach cells enough to cause abnormal growth or cancer. Doctors can easily test you for H. Pylori, and if you have it, can knock it out with a short course of antibiotics.

A second dangerous risk factor is cured, smoked and processed meats like lunch meat, hot dogs, bacon and sausage. These foods contain nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens that can cause tumors. Also, reduce your consumption of salty foods, especially soy sauce and foods that are canned and packaged. The salt can damage the stomach’s lining and also cause abnormal growths.

Additionally, your blood type may have some influcence. Those who have Type A blood have an increased risk of stomach cancer as well; however, many experts have yet to determine the exact connection.

More Information: