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Link between BMI and cancer

It’s known that carrying excess weight is a risk factor for developing some cancers, especially pancreatic cancer. This study was the first to look at the patients’ body mass index (BMI) throughout their lives, not just at the time of the cancer diagnosis.

They found a high BMI as a young adult significantly increased the chance of developing pancreatic cancer at an earlier age.

About pancreatic cancer

The pancreas is an organ that lies behind the lower part of your stomach and helps with digestion of food. Pancreatic cancer is a lethal disease with a low survival rate. Once diagnosed, the average survival rate is 10 months. The 2 main modifiable risk factors for pancreatic cancer are obesity and smoking.

The cancer and BMI study

Researchers studied 1,595 individuals, 841 who were treated for pancreatic cancer between 2004 and 2008. They were compared against 754 people who were companions of the patients, and did not have cancer.

The researchers, through questionnaires and personal interviews collected information on histories of: smoking, family cancer, alcohol use and general medical and health. They were asked to recall their height and body weights in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and the year prior to the cancer diagnosis.

The researchers calculated the BMI of the participants and compared the average age of pancreatic cancer diagnosis and the survival time.

What they found …

The research confirmed the link with obesity and pancreatic cancer. In addition, it showed that excess weight at younger ages had a stronger association with increased risk of pancreatic cancer. For example, those overweight at 14 to 19 years and/or in their 30s had a 60% increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

They also found a link between excess weight and early onset of pancreatic cancer. The average age of diagnosis for those at normal weight was 64 years, compared 59 years for obese patients.

Lead researcher Prof Li said, “On average, overweight pancreatic cancer patients were diagnosed two to three years earlier, and obese patients were diagnosed five to six years earlier, which underscores the impact of obesity on loss of life – especially in productive years.”

The study was published in The Journal of The American Medical Association.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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