Exercise and diet linked to reduced ovarian cancer rates

A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine[1] found that women who engaged in regular, moderate physical activity were less likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who did not. The case-control study was conducted during 2006-2008 in southern China, chosen because the large population meant that a large number of subjects could be found relatively easily. The study collected information on physical activity and lifestyle factors from 500 ovarian cancer patients, and 500 hospital based control patients.

The study found that women who spent 23 hours a week doing physical activity were around half as likely to develop ovarian cancer as those who did just 12 hours.


Taking the stairs at work is a simple way to squeeze more exercise into your day. You probably wont even notice.

While 23 hours a week sounds like a lot for anybody, especially when taking into account the demands of a family and a career, you don’t need to spend all this time at the gym to get the benefit. Look for ways to sneak a little extra incidental exercise into your daily life. For example, if you work in an office, take the stairs up to your desk rather than the lift ( or at least part way if you work on the 20th floor ). Park at the far end of the carpark when doing the grocery run. Walk when popping up to the corner shop for a few things. With a little thought and some planning, squeezing in an extra hour a day isn’t that hard.

And there’s more good news: the same study[2] found that a diet high in fruit and vegetables was also linked to a reduction in ovarian cancer. The study found that the mean daily intake of fruit and vegetables for the ovarian cancer patients (324.2g / 582.7g) was about 1/2 to 2/3 of that of the patients without ovarian cancer (477.3g / 983.3g).

Eating vegetables and fruits can be beneficial in avoiding cancer

Eating vegetables and fruits can be beneficial in avoiding cancer

So while you’re looking for ways to squeeze a little more incidental exercise into your day, think about how to get more fruit and vegetables into your day as well. Keep it simple – fresh fruit juice with your breakfast (oranges are quick and easy to juice), snack on apples or bananas (or whatever your favourite fruit is) and avoid the sweet pastries with your morning coffee, make sure that your lunch includes some salad vegetables, …. it’s not really that hard if you plan ahead. Keep track of your daily fruit and vegetable consumption and you’ll find that you can get up to the numbers quoted in the study easily.

And you’ll be doing yourself a lot of good in the process.


1. Lee, A, Su, D, Pasalich, Maria, Wong, Y, Binns, C, 2013, ‘Habitual physical activity reduces risk of ovarian cancer: A case–control study in southern China’, Preventative Medicine, vol. 57 Supplement, pp. S31-S33. Abstract available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743512005865.
2. Li, T, Lee, A, Su, D, Binns, C, 2014, ‘Fruit and vegetable consumption associated with reduced risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in southern Chinese women’, Gynecologic Oncology, vol. 132, issue 1, pp 241-247. Abstract available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0090825813012699.