Gestational weight gain and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer



To examine the association between (GWG) and epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).


We compared GWG between 670 incident EOC cases and 1,551 community controls from a population-based, case–control study conducted in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York from 2003 to 2008. Multivariable unconditional logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) associated with GWG adjusting for potential confounders. To explore the potential effect of maternal long-term weight retention after childbearing, we restricted analyses to women who began their childbearing years as normal/underweight and examined differences in EOC risk between those who were normal/underweight versus those who were overweight/obese at study baseline reference date.


Average GWG per full-term pregnancy did not differ between cases and controls. Among women who were normal/underweight at study baseline, greater average GWG was not associated with EOC (OR = 0.9, 0.8, 0.7 for quartiles 2, 3 and 4 of GWG gain, respectively, compared to quartile 1). In contrast, among women who were overweight/obese at study baseline, greater average GWG was positively associated with EOC (OR = 1.4, 1.8, 1.2, for quartiles 2, 3, and 4 compared to quartile 1; interaction p = 0.04).


We posit that maternal post-partum weight retention and not gestational weight gain itself among normal/underweight women may impact subsequent risk of EOC. If our hypothesis is supported in other studies designed to assess this question directly, then counseling women on the importance of healthy weight management after a pregnancy could provide another means to help women reduce their risk of this often-fatal malignancy.

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Data availability

Data are available upon request from the senior author.


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This work supported by National Cancer Institute (K07-CA80668, R01CA095023); the Department of Defense (DAMD17-02-1-0669); and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean’s Faculty Advancement Fund.

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Correspondence to Francesmary Modugno.

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Institutional Review Board approval was obtained from all hospitals from which cases were identified and from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Fu, Z., Kelley, J.L., Odunsi, K. et al. Gestational weight gain and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Cancer Causes Control (2021).

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  • Gestational weight gain
  • Epithelial ovarian cancer
  • Case–control study