Overweight obesity and cancer mortality

Recent results from a large American Cancer Society prospective mortality study illustrate that increased body weight is associated with increased death rates from all cancers combined and for cancers at multiple specific sites in both men and women (Figs. 1,2). These results were based on a population of more than 900,000 US adults who were followed from 1982 through 1998, and on more than 57,000 deaths from cancer that occurred during the 16-yr follow-up period (3). The results are based on cancer mortality and thus may reflect the influence of BMI on either cancer incidence or survival, or both.

  1. 2. Summary of mortality from cancer according to body mass index for US women in the Cancer Prevention Study II, 1982 through 1998. For each relative risk, the comparison was between women in the highest BMI category (indicated in parentheses) and women in the reference category (BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Asterisks indicate relative risks for women who never smoked. Results of the linear test for trend were significant (p < 0.05) for all cancer sites. Reproduced with permission from ref. 3.
  2. 2. Summary of mortality from cancer according to body mass index for US women in the Cancer Prevention Study II, 1982 through 1998. For each relative risk, the comparison was between women in the highest BMI category (indicated in parentheses) and women in the reference category (BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Asterisks indicate relative risks for women who never smoked. Results of the linear test for trend were significant (p < 0.05) for all cancer sites. Reproduced with permission from ref. 3.

Survival may be influenced by adiposity-related differences in diagnosis or treatment of cancer, as well as by true biological effects of adiposity on cancer progression.

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