Reducing Your Endometrial Cancer Risk
While you can’t prevent PCOS, it’s important to know your risk for endometrial cancer and figure out what you can do to protect your health and minimize that risk.
If you have PCOS, do what you can to keep other risk factors for endometrial cancer in check:
- Treat your PCOS. If left untreated, hormone levels will remain abnormal and affect your whole body and your cancer risk. Seek treatment for PCOS early and regulate hormone levels. You can do this with oral contraceptives — progesterone-only pills are best to reduce endometrial cancer risk — or metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Fortamet, Riomet), the diabetes medication, to manage hormone production. Surgery may also be an option.
- Reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Most often, women with PCOS are obese or overweight. And obesity is a known risk factor for endometrial cancer because it also increases estrogen levels. By getting regular exercise and sticking to a healthy diet, you can lose excess pounds and minimize your endometrial cancer risk, even if you have PCOS.
- Avoid fat in your diet. Besides helping avoid unwanted pounds, trimming the fat from your diet can reduce endometrial cancer risk. It’s thought that fat affects the way that estrogen is metabolized and used by the body, which can also raise the chances of developing endometrial cancer.
- Get regular Pap smears and pelvic exams. If you already know you’re at a greater risk for endometrial cancer because of your PCOS, it’s important to keep an eye out for early signs of cancer. Having a regular pelvic exam done by your gynecologist can help to identify endometrial cancer and begin treatment.
Having PCOS doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop endometrial cancer, but it does mean that you’re at an increased risk for the disease. So take good care of yourself by focusing on preventive care, maintaining a fit body, and living a healthy lifestyle to reduce your endometrial cancer risk.