Many women could be eating probiotic yoghurts in a bid to tackle bloating, rather than seeking medical help for a common symptom of cancer, a charity has warned.
Persistent bloating is one of the main signs that a woman could have ovarian cancer, but a new study has found that some women would be more likely to make changes to their diet than visit their GP if they were regularly bloated.
A poll of 1,142 women on behalf of Target Ovarian Cancer found that 50% of British women would change their diet if they were persistently bloated, including cutting out certain foods like gluten or dairy, starting to consume certain foods such as probiotic yoghurts or peppermint tea, or go on a diet.
But just 34% said that they would visit a GP if they had concerns about regular bloating.
Previous research by the charity has found that only one in five women know that persistent bloating is a common symptom of ovarian cancer, and that there is an "awareness gap" surrounding the symptoms of the disease.
As a result, two thirds of British sufferers are not being diagnosed until their disease has spread, making it harder to treat, the charity added.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: "A probiotic yoghurtshould not be preventing a woman from visiting the GP promptly if something is worrying her.
"Women should not be risking their lives because of the enduring awareness gap around the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
"If women know ovarian cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating and are able to link them to ovarian cancer early on, lives will be saved."
What are the common symptoms of ovarian cancer?
- Pelvic, abdominal or back pain
- Feeling full quickly and/or a loss of appetite
- Needing to urinate more frequently than normal
- Sudden weight loss
- Feeling tired all the time
- Persistent indigestion or nausea
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal bleeding
- A change in bowel habits
Anyone who experiences these symptoms should make an appointment to visit their GP.