Attention, women: You might be missing this common sign of ovarian cancer

When it comes to cancer types that disproportionately affect women, breast cancer gets a lot of buzz. And by all means, continue your regular self-exams and mammograms, please! Still, it’s important to tune in to the signs of ovarian cancer, too. The American Cancer Society reports that ovarian cancer affects over 20,000 women in the U.S. each year, and about 40 women die every day from the disease. But according to new research from Target Ovarian Cancer, most women wouldn’t recognize one major red flag.

The British charity surveyed 1,000 women to determine their knowledge of the risk and protection factors of ovarian cancer. Overall, just one percent knew that feeling the frequent need to urinate is a symptom of the disease. On the other hand, these are the common myths about ovarian cancer you DO need to ignore.

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Don’t focus on nutrients

Just remember that studying human nutrition is tricky, and experts caution that the science is still inconclusive about which specific nutrients or foods are involved when it comes to fighting cancer—if any. “It’s really more about looking at the whole diet rather than any specific nutrient,” says Mia Gaudet, PhD, scientific director of epidemiology research for the American Cancer Society. “Most nutrients aren’t available naturally in isolation. Eating a variety of foods will get you the widest range of nutrients possible.” Find out the 30 simple steps to take to cut your cancer risk.

Fruits and veggies are vital

You may know that carotenoids are the compounds that give carrots and other orange foods their color. They’re also potent antioxidants that have strong anticancer properties. You’ll find them in lots of fruits and veggies (sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, pumpkin), which may help explain why plant-based diets tend to be linked to lower rates of cancer. “In studies, people who ate the most vegetables had the lowest risk of estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer,” says Susan Brown, RN, senior director of education and patient support at Susan G. Komen. Just note that the research suggests that veggies have a stronger effect than fruits, so focus your efforts on orange and yellow vegetables for best results. Also, consider eating some other types of produce that help keep cancer at bay.

Whole grains can help

The popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets has made grains an endangered species in the American diet. The fear surrounding gluten hasn’t helped. Whole grains are an important source of cancer-fighting nutrients, including fiber.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fiber fights cancer,” says Robert Segal, MD, founder of Medical Offices of Manhattan. “In populations that have high-fiber diets, colon, stomach, and breast cancers are a lot less common.” And they’re less likely to reoccur when people get plenty from their diet, he says.

It may have something to do with the way fiber alters the effect of hormones like estrogen—which is linked to some types of cancer. Fiber can also bind with certain carcinogenic compounds and help move them out of the body. Most Americans get only a fraction of the 40 grams of fiber they need daily, averaging between 10 and 20 grams a day. Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa are a great way to reach that quota.

Beans do a body good 

Beans are another great source of dietary fiber—plus, they’re rich in antioxidants and protein, which makes them a healthy, low-fat alternative to meat. Research has found that people who eat a lot of meat have a higher risk of developing cancer; subbing in plant-based protein sources like beans may help slash your risk. One 2005 study found that women whose diets included eating beans and lentils at least twice a week had a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them less than once a month. Check out 15 things cancer doctors do to avoid getting cancer.

Olive oil is a healthy fat

Eating too much fat can boost the presence of hormones that elevate some cancer risks, such as breast, Dr. Segal warns. But recent research suggests that healthier types of fats, specifically the monounsaturated kind found in olive oil and other foods, may have a slight protective effect against a variety of cancers. It’s no secret that olives are a staple of Mediterranean cooking, which may be why those countries have cancer rates significantly lower than those in the United States.

Soy could slash your risk 

There has been some debate over soy’s role in cancer prevention and recurrence, mostly because it contains compounds known as phytoestrogens, which mimic human hormones that seem to raise risk. If any risk exists—and there’s plenty of argument against that idea—it’s from concentrated soy proteins (in supplements) or heavily processed soy fillers that turn up in junk food, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is some research suggesting that diets rich in whole soy foods may have a protective effect—particularly against breast cancer. Look for the least processed forms of soy—edamame, tofu, soy milk, miso. Now read these 37 science-backed ways to cut your cancer risk.

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Why does ovarian cancer make you pee a lot? “Needing to wee more often or more urgently—and indeed, all of the symptoms of ovarian cancer—can occur because a mass in the abdominal area is pushing on the surrounding organs, including over the bladder,” according to Katherine Pinder, Deputy Director of Services at Target Ovarian Cancer.

Granted, there are lots of other reasons for taking a bathroom break more frequently than normal. Increasing your water consumption, becoming pregnant, or suffering from a condition like diabetes can all boost your urge.

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Olivia Newton-John 

(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Robin Roberts

(Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Giuliana Rancic

(Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)

Suzanne Somers

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Gloria Steinem  

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for AOL)

Sheryl Crow

(Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

Cynthia Nixon

Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

Wanda Sykes

(Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

Kylie Minogue 

(Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Hoda Kotb is seen on the set of the Today Show on September 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

Carly Simon

(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Dame Maggie Smith 

(Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

Christina Applegate 

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Shannen Doherty

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

Janice Dickinson

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Rita Wilson

(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

Edie Falco 

(Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)

 Sandra Lee

 (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Kathy Bates

(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

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But it’s still important to be aware of the small possibility that your frequent urination could mean something more serious—especially if you’re experiencing other common signs of ovarian cancer like abdominal bloating, appetite loss, or pelvic and/or abdominal pain. If you display any of these symptoms, it’s always best to book an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist as soon as possible. These are the 14 things doctors wish you knew about ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer isn’t the only cancer with unusual symptoms. Don’t miss the cancer symptoms that women are likely to ignore.

RELATED: Things in your home that may cause cancer 

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Things in your home that can cause cancer

Your big, comfy couch

Your favorite sofa could be killing you, and not just because it lures you away from activity: Many sofas, mattresses, and other cushioned furniture are treated with TDCIPP, a flame retardant known to cause cancer (i.e., a carcinogen). TDCIPP was used so frequently prior to 2013 that a study out of Duke University found it in the blood of everyone they tested. It's also one of ten chemicals most frequently found in household dust, according to this study.

What can you do?

Consider replacing cushioned furniture you purchased prior to 2013, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council—and check furniture labels on any purchases.

And while you're at it, make sure you aren't around any of these other causes of cancer.

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Your curtains and carpets

Cadmium is a carcinogenic byproduct of cigarette smoke. If you smoke in your house, cadmium and other cigarette smoke by-products may be lurking, especially on soft surfaces such as curtains and carpet—even long after the smell of smoke is gone. There's even such a thing as third-hand smoke and it's resistant to even the strongest cleaning products. Here's where you can learn more about third-hand smoke and its dangers.

What can you do?

Quit smoking—here are 23 tips to kick start kicking the habit—and never allow smoking in your home.

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Your leather recliner

Chromium (VI) is a known carcinogen found in tanned leather, wood furniture, certain dyes and pigments used in textiles, and cement. To give you an idea of the prevalence of chromium VI, one study out of Denmark found that almost half of imported leather shoes and sandals contained some level of the carcinogen.

What can you do?

As with TCIPP, pay attention to labeling. And don't be shy about asking questions of your furniture salesperson.

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Your garden

Dioxin is a carcinogen that forms as a chemical byproduct and ends up in our soil and water. It's in the dust on shelves, the dirt on floors, and the residue on vegetables. Your risk of cancer from dioxin exposure may be greater than one in one-thousand, says clean-living guru, Sophia Ryann Gushée.

What can you do?

Wear gloves when working in the garden, and always wash up before heading inside. Additionally, avoid backyard burning of household trash.

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Your old fridge

According to cancer.org, carcinogenic PCBs can turn up in old appliances, fluorescent lighting fixtures, and electrical transformers. While no longer commercially produced in the United States, PCBs are still manufactured and used in developing countries, and of all PCBs ever produced, up to 70 percent are still in the environment. Diet is another major source of exposure, according to Gushée.

What can you do?

Get rid of those old appliances and fluorescent light fixtures. Pay attention to advisories regarding PCB-contaminated fish and fish-eating wildlife.

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Your cleaning products

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen found at home in food, cosmetics, a variety of cleaning products (such as dishwashing liquids, fabric softeners, and carpet cleaners), paint, foam insulation, and on permanent press fabrics. In addition, you can be exposed by breathing smoke from gas cookers and open fireplaces.

What can you do?

Here is a list of household products that contain formaldehyde, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Choose your cleaning products carefully—here are some chemical-free ways to clean your home. Also, be sure to ventilate your cooking areas.

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Your closets

The dry-cleaning chemical perchloroethylene (tetrachloroethylene or "perc") is a carcinogen that can build up wherever you store your dry-cleaned clothes. It's also found in spot removers, shoe polish, and wood cleaners.

What can you do?

Wear gloves when polishing your shoes and cleaning wood. If you dry-clean your clothing, try to find a dry-cleaner who doesn't use perc. And check out the times you can feel free to ignore the dry-clean only label.

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Your vinyl flooring and miniblinds

Phthalates are suspected of causing cancer and may adversely affect human reproduction or development. They're found in vinyl flooring, shower curtains, synthetic leather, miniblinds, wallpaper, and anything made with PVC vinyl. They're also found in food packaged in plastic.

What can you do?

Stay away from products made with PVC vinyl. Look for products that are labeled as phthalate-free. Toss plastic toys made before 2008, according to mindbodygreen.com, and switch to glass and stainless containers and bottles. And reconsider your use of plastic wraps and food containers.

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Your favorite rice and chicken dinner

Everyone knows arsenic is poisonous, but in smaller doses, it's also carcinogenic. Yet you can find it in foods you probably eat regularly—including chicken, rice, and certain fruit juices, as well as in degreasing products, dyes, furniture wax, glues, lubricants, nylon, and paints.

What can you do?

Serve only organic chicken, and follow these rice-related guidelines issued by Consumer Reports. Check the labels on your household products; people following a gluten-free diet may be at particular risk of arsenic exposure.

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Your insulation

Asbestos has been out of favor for decades, thankfully, but you can still find it in the insulation of older homes. As the insulation eventually deteriorates, asbestos fibers become airborne. Since asbestos fibers stick to clothing and shoes, workers exposed to asbestos on the job can also bring asbestos into their homes.

What can you do?

Follow these guidelines to reduce asbestos exposure in your home.

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Your styrofoam cups

Styrene is a known carcinogen widely used in the manufacturing of polystyrene plastics, which can be made into foam and rigid plastic products such as cups, plates, trays, utensils, packaging, and packing peanuts. Styrene may leach into your hot coffee or soup if you're using styrofoam containers. It's also present in cigarette smoke and in all of these home maintenance, automotive, and crafting productsWhat can you do? Avoid using styrofoam to hold hot foods and liquids, and read your product labels carefully. Find out the 12 foods you should never microwave.  

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Your library books

According to the Library of Congress and other government sources, medical supplies, library books, and museum artifacts may all be sterilized or fumigated with ethylene oxide, which is a known carcinogen. What can you do? Mostly a problem for people who work with the chemical, you can minimize exposure by not bringing items into your house that have been exposed to ethylene oxide.

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Your weedkiller

No one likes weeds, but if you decide to decimate them using herbicides such as Roundup, which contains the carcinogen glyphosate, you may be raising your risk for cancer.

What can you do?

Make a practice of carefully reading the labels on your weedkillers. And consider using some of these natural weed killers that don't contain dangerous chemicals.

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Your bug spray

Pantry pests and other creepy crawlies can carry disease. But if you eliminate them using chemical pesticides, you're increasing your risk of cancer. Chemical pesticides include those that you use on your pets, such as flea collars and tick-repellant.

What can you do?

Seek out less-toxic pesticide alternatives—or make your own, like this natural tick repellent that works.

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Your granite counter

Radon is formed naturally from the radioactive decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It raises the risk of lung cancer—especially if you also smoke, says Ashley Sumrall, MD, FACP, a Charlotte-based oncologist. If you live in an area where the amount of uranium and radium in rocks is high, you can be exposed to radon through cracks in your foundation. You can also be exposed to radon if you have a granite countertops.

What can you do?

If you live in an area with high levels of uranium and radium, or if you have granite countertops, consider having your home's radon levels measured. Here's what you need to know about radon testing.

Next, find out the causes of cancer that might surprise you.

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[Source: Cosmopolitan UK]

The post Attention, Women: You Might Be Missing This Common Sign of Ovarian Cancer appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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