The influence of excess body weight on the risk of death from cancer has not been fully characterized.
In this study, researchers from Atlanta, Georgia, prospectively studied a population of more than 900,000 adults (404,576 men and 495,477 women).
|Current patterns of overweight and obesity in the USA could account for 14% of all deaths from cancer in men and 20% in women.|
|New England Journal of Medicine|
Patients were free of cancer when they enrolled in the study in 1982. There were 57,145 deaths from cancer during 16 years of follow-up.
The team examined the relation between the body-mass index (BMI) in 1982 and the risk of death from all cancers and from cancers at individual sites. They controlled for other risk factors using multivariate proportional-hazards models.
The researchers calculated the proportion of all deaths from cancer that was attributable to overweight and obesity in the United States. They used risk estimates from the current study and national estimates of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the US adult population.
The team determined that the heaviest members of the cohort (BMI ≥ 40) had death rates from cancer that were higher than those for men and women of normal weight. They calculated the relative risk of death in men was 1.52, and for women 1.62.
In both men and women, BMI was significantly associated with higher rates of death due to cancer of the esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney. This was also true for death due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
The researchers observed trends of increasing risk with higher BMI values for death from cancers of the stomach and prostate in men and cancers of the breast, uterus, cervix, and ovary in women.
The team estimates that current patterns of overweight and obesity in the United States could account for 14% of all deaths from cancer in men and 20% of those in women.
Dr Eugenia Calle's team concluded, "Increased body weight was associated with increased death rates for all cancers combined and for cancers at multiple specific sites".