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.
- 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…