Ovarian cancer is a cancer that forms in the ovaries, reproductive glands only found in women. Ovaries produce eggs for reproduction.  There are many types of tumors that can start growing in the ovaries. Luckily most of these tumors are benign (not cancerous) and do not spread beyond the ovary. On the other hand those that are not benign are malignant (cancerous) and can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body quickly. Since they spread so rapidly, it is important to catch the cancer in its early stages in order for treatment to be the most effective it can be.

Clear reason as to why some women develop ovarian cancer, and some do not is not available. Scientists and doctors are still unsure as to what the causes of ovarian cancer are, but they do have some risk factors that have been identified to increase a woman’s chance of developing the cancer.

Some of these factors include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Number of pregnancies
  • Hormonal cycling
  • Environmental factors

Ovarian Cancer and Asbestos Exposure

While evidence of the risk associated with environmental factors are limited, some studies have offered helpful insight on the subject. Potential environmental factors that might offer greater risks to women include toxic solvents, organic dusts, dyes, triazine herbicides, talc, and asbestos. Both talc and asbestos have been used in women’s cosmetic products such as face powders and blushes.

A significant number of studies have reported an increase in mortality of ovarian cancer patients who were in contact with asbestos in the work force. A 1982 case —control study found that women with ovarian cancer were approximately three times more likely to have used talcum powder on their genital area than control patients without ovarian cancer.  As such, it is important to note that asbestos fibers were once mixed in talcum powder to create make-up powders.  Additionally, a pathology study published in the early 1970s reported embedded talc particles in 75 percent of patients with ovarian tumors.

A more recent study of more than 1,000 women found that 45 percent of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer reported using talc in the genital area, as opposed to 36 percent of women without the disease, leading scientists to conclude there to be an overall increased relative risk of 60 percent.

In addition to all the studies performed, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) confirmed that sufficient evidence exists to state that asbestos exposure causes ovarian cancer.  These new findings of sufficient evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer will have far reaching implications to all women exposed to asbestos.

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance provides one of the primary resources for women with ovarian cancer in the US. The alliance works not only to further the advancement of women who have ovarian cancer, but also to gain awareness and support for new technology and testing practices. Among the main goals of the alliance are to fund early detection tests, improve medical practices and increase quality treatment protocols. Along with the goal of raising support, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is also an excellent resource which contains the risks, symptoms and signs of ovarian cancer.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance was founded in 1997 as five separate ovarian cancer organizations came together to meet for the first time. This meeting allowed the leaders of the organizations to form a united front through the founding of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Since coming together, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has worked to serve as a top flight resource for women with ovarian cancer, as well as spreading their message and goals. As a united front for ovarian cancer, their goal is not only to raise awareness about the disease, but also provide education, support and a wealth of resources.

American Cancer Society
International Agency for Research on Cancer

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