Risk factors of ovarian cancer: family history, obesity and oral contraceptive use

Aleksandra Amalia Kuchnicka, Martyna Zielińska, Natalia Zarankiewicz, Katarzyna Kosz, Halina Piecewicz-Szczęsna

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/JEHS.2020.10.09.046


Introduction and purpose:  

Ovarian cancer (OC) takes the 7th place among most common female malignancies worldwide. There are almost 240 thousand of new cases diagnosed each year and the number is constantly growing. Defining risk factors of OC is essential to provide good education among women and predict this malignancy better. The aim of this review is to analyze the current data on risk factors of OC concentrating on family history, obesity andoral contraceptives use.  

Material and method: 

This review was based on articles from 2010 to 2020 collected in PubMed and concerning the impact of several risk factors on developing OC. 


The best described risk factor of OC is genetics and family history. 75% or hereditary OCs are associated to BRCA genes mutations, especially BRCA1. Other mutations increasing the risk of OC are MSH2 and MLH1 genes mutations. Diverse risk factors correlate with different histological subtypes of OC. Obesity increases the levels of estrogens, androgens and leptin, which may promote the proliferation of ovarian epithelial cells. Using oral contraceptives is related to 20% decreased risk of OC for each 5 years of use. 


BRCA1/2, MSH2 and MLH1 mutations and obesity are well-defined risk factors of ovarian cancer. The first-choice risk-reducing procedure among BRCA carriers is bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. On the contrary, using oral contraceptives results in decreased risk of OC. Promoting knowledge about OC risk factors among women and healthcare professionals is crucial in order to reduce the number of ovarian cancer.


ovarian cancer; risk factors; obesity; oral contraceptive; BRCA; family history

Full Text:



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1223 Journal of Education, Health and Sport eISSN 2391-8306 7

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