When we were tapped by ConsumerSafety.org to help them spread the word about ovarian cancer, we immediately said yes. Our audience, by and large, are women and you ladies are in all stages of life here– from new mothers to empty nesters.  (We’ve got some men, though! Hi, men! This information is important for you guys, too. Help the ladies in your lives protect themselves by sharing this post.) 

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian Cancer: How to Protect Yourself

Motherhood is one hell of a commitment. Whether you are a mom with a career outside the home or a SAHM, your schedule gets busier with every new child you welcome into the family. With so many mouths to feed, diapers to change, and bruises to kiss, it isn’t uncommon for a woman to move her own health and self-care down the priority line. However, a mother’s negligence with regards to her own personal health helps no one in the family, and in some cases, it can be an extremely dangerous mistake. This September, we honor National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is a disease that without proper awareness and proactive actions, can turn a family upside down. So let’s learn some of the facts to be prepared for the future!

Know Your Family
Keeping track of your family’s medical records can be extremely helpful in determining your own chances of developing ovarian cancer. Women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer are at higher risk. Women with past experiences of breast, cervical or colorectal cancer have a higher possibility of ovarian cancer as well. Knowing this information, and passing this information onto your daughters can be pivotal in an early diagnosis where the cancer is most treatable.

Be Proactive
Ovarian cancer affects women of all ages, ethnicities, and body types, but the older a woman is, the higher her risk of developing the cancer. A woman’s risk increases as she enters her forties and she approaches menopause. Her chances will only continue to increase in post-menopause.

If you are scheduling your regular gynecological check-ups, then you are regularly being tested for cervical cancer thanks to your yearly Pap smear. Unfortunately, there is no test like a Pap smear that is testing for ovarian cancer; it is incredibly rare for a doctor to diagnose symptoms of ovarian cancer in this annual check-up.

If you feel that you are at risk based on your family’s health history, your own health history, or for other reasons, there are tests that your gynecologist can perform to diagnose the disease, including several imaging scans, biopsies, and blood tests. For example, the genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, commonly associated with breast cancer, also indicate a higher risk for ovarian cancer. If you feel you are at a greater risk, being proactive with these tests can be lifesaving.

Protect Your Vagina
We wash our vegetables before eating to limit the number of pesticides in our body. We wash our hands after doing a dirty job to prevent spreading bacteria and possible infections. With such a focus on cleanliness in our daily lives, why would we ever let harmful chemicals anywhere near our vaginas?

The consumer market targets women with products to make their vaginas “cleaner or prettier,” but you don’t need glitter of fresh fragrances to make your vagina more desirable or less offensive. Oftentimes, these cosmetic products contain unsafe ingredients that can cause infections and other health problems, way more than a woman bargains for when buying a douche. Just look at the recent verdict in California over talcum powder and its correlation with ovarian cancer. Eva Echeverria, a terminally ill woman with ovarian cancer, won $417 million against Johnson & Johnson because of the connection between Johnson’s talc-based baby powder to her cancer. Her reasoning for fighting the case during her difficult battle with ovarian cancer? She wanted to protect other women from the same fate.

It’s important to recognize what exactly you’re buying when you are shopping for cleansing and moisturizing products for you and your family. Be conscious of the ingredients used and protect your loved ones from harm with a little bit of consumer research.

Aim for a Healthy Lifestyle.
Studies have shown that women who are obese with a BMI over 30 have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer and many other life threatening diseases. By making simple changes to maintain a healthy weight, a woman can lower her odds for many health problems. Make a commitment to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, and bring your family along for the ride. Along with regular exercise, it is recommended to eat foods full of vitamins A, D, & E found in many vegetables, beans, and eggs, along with omega-3 fatty acids most notably found in varieties of fish. Also, reduce your alcohol intake and exposure to cigarette smoke. Not only will you lower your chances of ovarian cancer, but you will instill important life lessons in your children that will protect them for years to come.

These are proactive ways to keep your body safe and be a positive healthy role model for your children. Other factors that can reduce your risk of this cancer include using oral contraceptives, giving birth and breastfeeding, and having a hysterectomy, though none of these options are recommended solely to prevent ovarian cancer.

With 22,000 women being diagnosed with ovarian cancer per year and 14,000 women dying of ovarian cancer per year, isn’t it time to take preventative measures to reduce our risk, maintain our health and protect the ones we love? Please share these tips and others that you find with the women in your life this September, and spread awareness about the dangers of ovarian cancer. It’s time we changed these statistics!

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