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Obesity Linked to Ovarian Cancer
Date:1/5/2009

Excess estrogen may contribute to malignancy, study suggests

MONDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Obese postmenopausal women who have never used hormone replacement therapy may face an increased risk of ovarian cancer, compared to normal-weight women, a new study suggests.

Interestingly, obese women who have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for symptoms of menopause may not face increased risk for this type of malignancy.

The study findings are published in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Cancer.

The take-home message is a familiar one, experts said: Maintain a healthy body weight.

"This is another, very fine epidemiologic study that shows a relationship between obesity and female-related cancers," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. "The two leading causes of cancer in the western world today are tobacco and obesity. We've made enormous progress with tobacco-related malignancies -- it's really stunning. The next wave is obesity-related illness."

Added Dr. Elizabeth A. Poynor, a gynecologic oncologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, "This is yet another health risk that we can talk about with women who are overweight, and yet another reason to lose weight."

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cancer killer of U.S. women and the leading killer among gynecologic malignancies. Only about 37 percent of women with this diagnosis will survive beyond five years, according to background information in the study.

Women who've had children and who've used oral contraceptives appear to have a decreased risk of the disease.

A family history of ovarian cancer along with HRT use is known to contribute to the risk, and there has been some evidence that excess body weight also ups the risk.

For the new study, investigators from the U.S. National Cancer Institute followed almost 95,000 U
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