Lifestyle changes and the risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers: Opportunities for prevention and management

Anna L. Beavis, Anna Jo Bodurtha Smith, Amanda Nickles Fader

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Modifiable lifestyle factors, such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and smoking, contribute greatly to cancer and chronic disease morbidity and mortality worldwide. This review appraises recent evidence on modifiable lifestyle factors in the prevention of endometrial cancer (EC) and ovarian cancer (OC) as well as new evidence for lifestyle management of EC and OC survivors. For EC, obesity continues to be the strongest risk factor, while new evidence suggests that physical activity, oral contraceptive pills, and bariatric surgery may be protective against EC. Other medications, such as metformin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may be protective, and interventional research is ongoing. For OC, we find increasing evidence to support the hypothesis that obesity and hormone replacement therapy increase the risk of developing OC. Oral contraceptive pills are protective against OC but are underutilized. Dietary factors such as the Mediterranean diet and alcohol consumption do not seem to affect the risk of either OC or EC. For EC and OC survivors, physical activity and weight loss are associated with improved quality of life. Small interventional trials show promise in increasing physical activity and weight maintenance for EC and OC survivors, although the impact on long-term health, including cancer recurrence and overall mortality, is unknown. Women’s health providers should integrate counseling about these modifiable lifestyle factors into both the discussion of prevention for all women and the management of survivors of gynecologic cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-167
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
StatePublished - May 23 2016


  • Endometrial cancer
  • Gynecologic cancer
  • Lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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