Hormonal and reproductive factors and the risk of ovarian cancer

Cancer Causes Control. 2017 May;28(5):393-403. doi: 10.1007/s10552-016-0848-9. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Purpose: Hormone-related factors have been associated with ovarian cancer, the strongest being parity and oral contraceptive use. Given reductions in birth rates and increases in oral contraceptive use over time, associations in more recent birth cohorts may differ. Furthermore, consideration of ovarian cancer heterogeneity (i.e., Type I/II invasive cancers) may contribute to a better understanding of etiology. We examined hormone-related factors in relation to ovarian cancer risk overall, for Type I and Type II cancers, as well as borderline tumors.

Methods: A population-based case-control study was carried out in Montreal, Canada from 2011 to 2016, including 496 cases and 908 controls. For each hormone-related variable, adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression for ovarian cancer overall, and using polytomous logistic regression for associations by tumor behavior and ovarian cancer type.

Results: Parity was inversely associated with risk overall and by tumor behavior and type, with a stronger OR (95% CI) for Type I [0.09 (0.04-0.24) for ≥3 full-term births vs. nulliparity] vs. Type II [0.66 (0.43-1.02)] invasive cancers; the OR (95% CI) for borderline tumors was 0.41 (0.22-0.77). Oral contraceptive ever use was not associated with risk overall, but ≥10 years of use vs. never use reduced risk, particularly for invasive cancers. A history of endometriosis was most strongly associated with Type I cancers. Associations with other factors were less clear.

Conclusions: These results suggest that associations with some hormone-related factors may differ between borderline and invasive Type I and II ovarian cancers.

Keywords: Case–control study; Hormones; Ovarian cancer; Reproductive factors; Type I/II.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Parity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Reproductive History*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral