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Ovarian Cancer Prevention: Overview of Healthy Lifestyle Choices


Updated January 30, 2009

What Does Healthy Mean?

While genetics play a role in determining who may suffer from ovarian cancer, exposure to things in the environment, such as cancer causing chemicals and/or eating patterns, also affect your risk. By eating well, reducing stress, and getting enough exercise, you may help reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer, or make recovering from ovarian cancer easier.

Genes, Nutrients and Immune Surveillance

Your genes are influenced by what you eat. The science of epigenetics explores how foods interact with your genes real-time and cause genetic switches to flip on and off. These can include genes which flip on and promote cancer or they may be genes which repress cancer when turned on. In numerous large diet intervention studies, when a group of people were asked to radically change their diet to a more healthy mix, such as the Mediterranean diet, the chances of dying from cancer or other diseases went down sharply.

Emotions, Personality and Cancer

Over the last 20 years, a large amount of research has shown emotions and mental outlook can impact a person’s resistance to ovarian cancer.

Being depressed, suffering from grief, and holding in anger may weaken rob the body’s ability to resist cancer, particularly if you have a passive-aggressive personality. Additionally, cancers may be brought on by stressful things that happen in life and can add to the risk of getting cancer. Other studies have also shown the more severe the depression the higher the rate of death due to cancer.

However, there is no direct proof that negative emotions and stress directly cause cancer. Rather they do have an effect on the immune system, and therein lies the connection to prevention. Whenever the immune system is weakened, especially by stress, poor diet or pollutants, it may create an environment for cancer growth.

Type C personalities -- the laidback, passive type -- also may be more likely to get cancer. Holding in emotions have been linked to a higher cancer risk. This may be due to a larger amounts of certain chemicals the body releases through control by the brain which could allow the cancer to grow. In a 30-year study it was found that students who were “loners,” and those who hold in their emotions, were 16 times more likely to get cancer than those who let their emotions out. Those same people, if they did have cancer, also have the worst cancer results.

Also from research results: Women with spreading breast or ovarian cancer and a meek personality type were shown to have a shorter survival rate than women who were able to show their anger.

Meanwhile women who had the attitude that they would not let the cancer beat them have been shown to have longer cancer-free periods and an overall longer survival rate, compared to passive women.

Stress and Cancer

Relaxing your mind may also improve protection against cancer. Getting enough rest helps the immune system during stressful times and meditation or meditative activities may help, as well. Anytime you can bring down your anxiety level by using a method such as meditation and relaxation, it can make it easier to handle the difficulties of deciding what treatment routes to take. It allows the mind to react in a more calm and normal manner when the anxiety level is lowered.

Studies show that meditation helps lower anxiety, depression, discomfort and pain. A patient’s moods improve and show lower levels of stress hormones that can cause a weakening of the immune system. Patients with advanced cancer showed a stabilization or even slight decrease in tumor size and extent after doing meditation.

However, it has never actually been proven that meditation is able to prevent or treat cancer. But there is little doubt about the benefits of mediation as an adjunct to cancer treatment, by allowing the patient to feel in control of the stresses that cancer and cancer treatment can bring.

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