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Three Factors that Can Reduce Female Cancer by More Than Half

Factors to reduce female cancer

Endometrial cancer is cancer that forms in the tissue that lines the uterus, called the endometrium. Nearly all cancers of the uterus start here and they affect more women each year than ovarian and cervical cancer combined. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 49,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2013.

A problem with endometrial cancer is that there is no method for screening so the cancer may be caught early while there is a good chance of recovery. Most endometrial cancer cases are diagnosed in postmenopausal women, average age 60. Symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge and pain in the lower abdomen, especially during sex.

Risk factors for endometrial cancer include taking tamoxifen for treatment or prevention of breast cancer, taking estrogen alone (taking estrogen in combination with progesterone does not appear to increase risk), never giving birth, reaching menstruation at an early age, reaching menopause at an older age, and having a gene for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC).

There are also some lifestyle factors that increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer. These include being overweight and eating a high fat diet.
“Body fat can produce hormones that promote cancer development," said Alice Bender, nutrition communications manager for AICR. "We also know that body fat is linked to chronic inflammation, which produces an environment that encourages cancer development."

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A new report, published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund International, suggests that engaging in physical activity (at least 30 minutes per day), eating healthfully (a diet low in saturated fats and refined sugars and high in fruits and vegetables), and drinking coffee can all reduce the risk of endometrial cancers by as much as 60%.

Elisa V. Bandera, associate professor from Rutgers Cancer Institute and panel member for the Continuous Update Project (CUP), says, “While additional studies are needed, it is a safe bet that maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity will reduce endometrial cancer risk, as well as having many other health benefits.”

Coffee – either regular or decaffeinated - may also be beneficial in the fight against endometrial cancer. The report (based on information from eight studies) showed that every cup of coffee consumed is linked with a 7% reduction in womb cancer risk. The likely factor is chlorogenic acid which may prevent DNA damage, improve insulin sensitivity, and inhibit glucose absorption in the intestine.

Journal References:
Preventing endometrial cancer: updating the evidence release from World Cancer Research Fund International, accessed 12 September, 2013.
Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Endometrial Cancer World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Report, 2013.

Additional Resources:
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
National Cancer Institute