Estimates show that 1 in 78 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetime. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. Affecting the female reproductive system, it kills more than 100,000 women worldwide and nearly 14,000 in the United States every year. Studies show that eating animal protein and the associate saturated fats increase risk of initiating ovarian cancer.
A group of researchers from the US National Cancer Institute teamed up with investigators from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA, to study the relationship between dietary fat intake and ovarian cancer risk. For this study, the researchers followed the diets of 2,000 women for 9 years and tracked the incidence of ovarian cancer in the study group. "Dietary fat increased the risk of ovarian cancer," concluded the authors. This study's results agree with the findings of another study published in the Oncology Clinical Digest Journal. The researchers observed that women on high-fat diets were more prone to come down with ovarian cancer than their colleagues who rarely ate or completely avoided fatty foods. So how do dietary fats promote the development of ovarian cancer?
Fatty foods enhance the synthesis of estrogen—the female sex hormone. Estrogens play an important role in the normal sexual and reproductive development in males and females. However, when in excess, estrogens can drive the growth and development of cancerous cells and tumors in the ovaries, increasing a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer.
In contrast, low-fat plant foods that prevent excess estrogens can reduce a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. These foods include carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and whole grains. Avoiding the fats and proteins in animal-based foods, while instead choosing low-fat whole plant foods can help maintain estrogens at an optimal level, inhibiting the estrogen-driven formation of cancerous cells. Plant-based diets that are oil-free and low in fats of all types do decrease the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer.