teaOvarian cancer is a sneaky disease. That’s because it often goes undetected until it has spread, making it more difficult to treat. I should know: My maternal grandmother was lucky to survive ovarian cancer, but my mother succumbed to the disease when it was detected only after it had already spread.

Ovarian cancer is currently the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women. And, having such a close family history of ovarian cancer puts me at a higher risk of developing it, so I get a yearly blood test and pelvic ultrasound to help detect any cancer growth in its earliest, most treatable stage.

And, being a long proponent of study-proven natural remedies, I’m always on the hunt for drug-free ways to lower my risk.

So, I was happy to read about a 2014 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that followed 171,940 women for three decades. Researchers found women who regularly consumed foods and beverages with beneficial cancer-thwarting flavonols and flavanones (which include orange juice, oranges and other citrus fruits, vegetables, apples, onions and black tea) were less likely to develop epithelial ovarian cancer. This is the most common type of ovarian cancer, accounting for about 90% of all cases and that starts in the outer surface of the ovary.

Eating and drinking delicious foods and beverages are already easy ways to protect your health. And, the researchers point out that it doesn’t even take a lot to get the ovary-protecting benefits. “In particular, just a couple of cups of black tea every day was associated with a 31% reduction in risk,” said Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D., who led the study.

That may be because flavanols and flavanones pack such a powerful cancer-fighting punch: Scientists suspect that flavonols prompt cancer cells to self-destruct and die off while also blocking the formation of blood vessels to tumors, essentially starving them so they don’t grow, and that flavanones interrupt the processes needed for cancer cell growth.

I’m already a big tea drinker, downing about four cups per day. Okay, five. But, after reading this study, I’ll be adding even more ovarian cancer-fighting foods to my grocery cart.

For lists of more foods containing flavanols and flavanones, click here and here.

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Gabrielle Lichterman is a longtime women’s health and lifestyle journalist whose articles have appeared in dozens of major magazines and newspapers around the globe including Cosmopolitan, CosmoGIRL, Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Daily News and Woman’s World. Gabrielle began developing Hormonology® and the Hormone Horoscope® in 1999 and has been sharing menstrual cycle-related research and tips through her apps, blog, book, newsletter and magazine articles ever since.

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