Dietary intake and ovarian cancer risk: a systematic review

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Feb;23(2):255-73. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0515. Epub 2013 Oct 18.


Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of gynecological cancer death. There is a need to identify modifiable dietary risk factors for this disease. To evaluate the role of diet in ovarian cancer risk, we performed a PRISMA-directed systematic review that included prospective cohort studies with >200 cases (n = 24). Higher risk for ovarian cancer was shown for total, animal, and dairy fat (five of nine studies), as well as total nitrate and possibly total vitamin C. No associations were demonstrated for red meat, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, β-carotene, or folate. Vegetables were associated with lower risk in one of three studies; fruit showed no association, although risk estimates were all greater than 1.0. Isoflavones and flavonoids were associated with modestly lower risk in two studies and tea intake was associated with lower risk in one of two studies. This review suggests that no specific dietary factors are consistently associated with ovarian cancer risk. Data by tumor subtypes are limited, but suggest that differential associations by tumor subtype may exist and should be evaluated. Studies of ample sample size, varied exposure, which can better control for dietary measurement error, are needed to fully define dietary recommendations for ovarian cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fats