I went to a funeral today for the mother of one of my long time friends. She died from ovarian cancer. When I look at images of her, my heart breaks. She was only 56 years old – so young.
I wanted to write about this topic today because it is so near and dear right now and because women with endometriosis have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer, especially when endometriosis is on your ovaries.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
After hearing about the aggressive tumor that ultimately ended the life of my sweet friend’s mother, I instinctively took to Google. What are signs of ovarian cancer? Didn’t take long for Dr. Google to further freak me out, Lol.
My intention today is not to freak you out too, but to provide some insights into prevention.
Ovarian cancer has been termed “the silent killer” because its symptoms are often written off as something else. When it spreads it’s very deadly, so it’s important to catch it early on.
According to the American Cancer Society some early symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- pelvic or abdominal pain;
- trouble eating or feeling full quickly;
- urgency to urinate – always feeling like you have to go.
I recognized right away that many of these symptoms are common with endometriosis, right? The main thing to pay attention to is the persistency of these symptoms.
If you’ve experienced these symptoms every day for two to three weeks then it wouldn’t hurt to get checked out by your doctor.
Additional symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- upset stomach;
- back pain;
- pain during sex;
- menstrual changes;
- abdominal changes with weight loss.
I know. It’s endo in a box.
Swollen Belly & Ovarian Cancer
The last time I talked to her mother was close to a year ago. We were wedding dress shopping for my friend’s upcoming wedding (which breaks my heart even further).
After talking with her mother I remember going home and thinking that something was wrong with her. After dealing with my own issues and diving into health and wellness for the past four years, I recognized that she had hormonal imbalances in play.
One thing that sticks out now was when her mother talked about the struggle to find a dress for the wedding. She was thin, but struggled with what she called a “pooch” – her belly was swollen and it wouldn’t go away.
That symptom sticks out in my mind now. A persistent swollen belly. That’s a sign of ovarian cancer.
Instinctively I knew something was wrong… but I didn’t say anything.
What Causes Ovarian Cancer?
There is a reason why women with endometriosis hold a higher risk for ovarian cancer. There is a common denominator feeding both: estrogen.
Estrogen stimulates cell division in the ovaries, breasts and uterus. When things go wrong with this process then cancer cells can develop.
Of most concern is an excess of estradiol – the growth promoting estrogen.
We live in an environment where we are exposed to xenoestrogens (chemical estrogens found in many products) and synthetic estrogens in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Ovarian Cancer & Birth Control Pills
I was distraught when I went searching for prevention methods for ovarian cancer and all that I found suggested were birth control pills.
It’s suggested that taking birth control pills for a long period of time can help prevent ovarian cancer.
But this doesn’t make sense to me. Many birth control pills contain chemical forms of estrogen that are not easily metabolized in your body.
In the long run you end up just feeding your body with estrogen that it doesn’t easily know how to process. So those synthetic estrogens linger in your cells and tissues.
To me, it makes more sense to control the excess, rather then throw in more chemicals to the fire.
Natural Strategies to Release Excess Estrogen
Rather then resort to birth control pills as a prevention method for ovarian cancer or a treatment option for endometriosis, other natural methods can be taken to manage estrogen dominance and get your hormones back in order.
Calcium D-Glucarate is a compound found naturally in fruits and vegetables including oranges, apples, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, but you can also take it in high concentrations with supplementation.
Studies have shown that Calcium-D-Glucarate has great potential to prevent cancer. It supports detoxification of estrogens and environmental toxins.
2.) Keep your lymphatic system moving
Your lymphatic system plays a big role in hormonal balance in your body. It drains right into your reproductive organs. Ovarian cysts are a sign that there are blockages within this vital system.
The following can help keep your lymphatic system moving:
- sauna time;
- alkaline foods (lots of veggies);
- massage, including lymphatic drainage massage;
- Ayurvedic herb Manjistha;
- staying hydrated;
- dry skin brushing;
- light exercise.
3.) Support your liver
Your liver plays a big role in the metabolism of estrogen and other toxins from your system.
You can support your liver with specific foods like leafy greens, cucumbers, celery, parsley, avocados, apples, carrots, etc. Dandelion and turmeric are two great liver supporting herbs. Your liver loves fresh juice, so get out that juicer 🙂
4.) Switch to Natural Beauty Products
Many of our beauty products contain parabens, which are chemicals that mimic estrogen. Watch out for any ingredient that ends with “paraben”. This can be found in your shampoo and conditioner, lotion, and other makeup products.
5.) Avoid plastic
This is a tough one. Plastic is everywhere. Many of it contains BPA, a hormone mimicking substance. Do your best to use glass when possible to eat and drink from and to store your food. Do not heat up plastic. This causes the toxins to leach out and into you.
6.) Say “No Thank You” to Receipts
BPA is also found in printer ink and it can transfer to you when you touch items with ink on them. I consciously avoid getting receipts at stores if they are not necessary, as I have a tendency to fold them and put the ink right into my fingers, to easily be transferred into my system.
My friend’s mother was an accountant for many years. Made me think of how much ink she was likely exposed to with everyday workings associated with that position – opening bills, invoices, etc.
7.) Incorporate Stress Management
Stress is an easy way to throw off your hormones and chronic stress can have devastating consequences. So it’s important to find ways to relax, get creative, laugh 🙂
On the Positive Side?
I keep thinking how I recognized that something was wrong but I didn’t say anything… not to say that it would have made a difference, but what if it had?
I suppose death makes you question…
So, in regret of my silence, I share this information with you today. I hope that you feel empowered to take preventative action. Be aware. Pay attention to the signs and signals from your body.
I think the steps to healing endometriosis and prevention of ovarian cancer are along the same path. Stop one, prevent the other.
Any experiences with ovarian cancer? Or any other prevention tips to share? I’d love to hear from you…
I’m so sorry for your loss! My thoughts and prayers with you and especially her daughter. Thank you for this post. Its a huge fear of mine.
Thank you Sara. Death is a reminder that life is so short. It’s vital for us to enjoy each moment. You just never know what may happen. Sending you love.
So, maybe I should decide to have hysterectomy after all, wouldn’t that prevent this cancer since we are highly susceptible to it,, seems to me if that helps endo and this would not be such bad idea
Maybe Mary, but I think that’s a pretty drastic prevention method and would include the removal of your ovaries as well. This opens up a new slew of issues as your body is swept into menopause. The uterus is the foundation of your pelvis so its removal increases the likelihood of bowel and bladder issues. I think rather then cutting things out, we take a look at the root cause and work on getting our detoxification systems in order and filling our bodies with nutrition so it’s healthy enough to ward things off.
Really sorry to hear about your friend’s Mum. I also struggle with the same problem when I see that someone has serious health issues not being addressed and wonder whether to intervene. Please try not to blame yourself for not speaking up. It would be different if back then you had a very clear understanding of ovarian cancer symptoms and knew that she should get checked out. The difference is that you just thought that she had hormonal imbalance and you only realised that when you looked back and found that clue. Please know that your blog is helping so many of us and you are educating women all over the world. Unfortunately we can’t ‘save’ everyone.
I have known about the increased risk of ovarian cancer for women with endo. Over a year ago I realised that the hormonal imbalance that drives endo could also give rise to breast cancer. I realised I had to get my hormones in check but by then it was too late and I was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. I’m through all that now but it is very clear that something is wrong. Hormonal imbalance.
There is some good evidence that eating a grated raw carrot a day can help reduce oestrogen. I have also found research that eating it with an avocado or avocado oil makes it even more beneficial. Here’s a good article on the subject http://www.thenutritioncoach.com.au/anti-ageing/a-carrot-a-day/ Carrots also contain the anti-cancer compound Falcarinol but if cooking it is best to cook them whole to retain as many nutrients as possible.
Thank you for the encouragement CB. I hope that posts like this do end up helping someone. Good to hear that you are through the breast cancer stuff. Hopefully that’s under control?
I have heard the same about carrots. I know that Dr. Gerson was big on carrot juice with his cancer programs.
The cancer is under control thanks. I was fortunate in that post op radiotherapy or chemotherapy were not recommended. Would you believe, endometriosis has been far more difficult to deal with but you get a fraction of the attention people give to cancer. Even my cancer doctors acknowledged that the endometriosis was a far more complex problem for me to solve!
There are other things I use to try to balance hormones. I eat mushrooms every day. They have something that acts like an aromatase inhibitor. I also make my own bone broth usually from organic chicken carcasses. Among other great benefits it can help balance hormones. Plus I stuff myself with broccoli, cauliflower and sprouted broccoli seeds to get diindolymethane to help excrete oestrogen. The bowels have to be working well though for any of this to be effective so at the moment I’m not taking any chances and I take half a teaspoon of magnesium citrate powder in water last thing at night.
Good to hear that it’s under control. I would believe that endo is more complex! Perhaps because there is not enough research dedicated to it. Thank you for the extra suggestions. Bowel health does play a big role.
Well I have had Endo for as long as I can remember along with sixteen surgeries which most I did not even need but the doctors at the time convinced me I did. I now have ovarian cancer and I’m stage three and omg it sucks. Why do I have it well maybe the many birth control pills the doctors told me and prescribed me to take the last ten years they said when I’m bleeding which was all the time for years then take one every four hours for three days until it stoped there were months when they had me on four birth control pills a day for this bleeding issue and it was always this black blood and man the cramps were awful. The doctors loved my insurance and were happy to do a lap and clean me out I look back on the fact that I am only 36 now and I have maxed out two insurances ruined my credit and I’m going to die soon and I have one ovary left and have yet to do the final hysterectomy. I also find it sad that these doctors all Beverly Hills top doctors by the way had a entire nursing team dedicated to your surgery approvals and pre ops they knew when each hospital would be available etc. when I look back over the years the codes they would put on my billing forms for the surgeries to blue cross Aetna etc all said possible hysterectomy opherectonmy and every thing possible under the sun. The jnsurance then paid the doctors for this and I wonder how dumb the jnsurance companies are not to see that as a flag since they paid for eleven hysterectomy for me as per what the doctors billed them for. Crazy. I think I must of walked into those doctors offices and they saw dollar signs this went on for years and when I could not afford my co pays or a payment the doctor even if I as in the worst pain of my life would say sorry we can’t make you an appt until you pay your bill so maybe you should go to the emergency room and just get billed they can’t turn you away they would say. Only I would go to Er and they said I need to see my doctor. I would be so depressed about this and in pain and needing refills on prescriptions it was hell. So then I would have to start over with a new doctor new office another surgery. It’s a horrible business and guess what causes cancer BIRTH CONTROL PILLS had I known that and all the increase estrogen they had me on including drinking a ton of soy I would of done things different. Today I saw a new app nurv that gives women birth control pills with out a prescription and delivers it to them. Just order and go they should have a huge sign that lets people know in red how it is a huge risk. No I’m sure I’m fine print on page twenty or something they have to mention one thing. That app just made me come unglued. Luckily I got smart finally and one day decided I wanted to live . Had I done all they said to do I am sure I would be dead. A year ago I took every prescription and trashed them everything I quit chemo I ripped out my iv before the big hysterectomy I was going to have and walked right out of the hospital. A week later my bleeding stopped on it’s own. It’s been a year and I have only bled one time one period for two days no pain. Where I had a huge bleeding problem with super long periods for years and years spreading Endo everywhere now I have no issue. Strange huh. I have not been back to the doctor I take natural black cohosh root and I do everything this lady is saying to do I don’t touch receipts or anything like that. This is your life not theirs and sadly it’s a world of money not care don’t be stupid like me and trust all a doctor may say to you. Only you. Know your body what it can handle and take and what helps. I may have cancer now but I’m strong as hell and I tell you what I would rather fight it with out their drugs making me worse so far it works thanks for reading Stacy lou
Wow Stacy Lou. I can feel your emotions in the words you shared here and I want you to know that you are seen and understood. I hope that you overcome, and find peace along the way. Sending love + light to you.