High BMI may not Hurt Chances After Surgery

Esophageal cancer and obesity association clarified

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Obesity is now known to increase the risk of a number of cancers, including esophageal. The exact nature of the association between body mass index (BMI) and esophageal cancer is now clearer and somewhat surprising.

A recent study has found there is no link between higher BMI and poorer outcomes for patients who have been treated for esophageal cancer.

Researchers have also found that BMI isn't associated with post-surgical complications.

"To lower your risks of cancer, lower your BMI."

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers reviewed research literature and patient data to draw this new conclusion, which is based on the trends of both esophageal cancer and obesity.

“The incidence of esophageal cancer in North America is rising,” said study co-author Kenneth L. Meredith, MD, assistant member at Moffitt and chief of the Esophagogastric Oncology Section. 

“Corresponding to that rise, there has been a dramatic rise in overweight and obese people as defined by the World Health Organization’s guidelines indicating those having a BMI of 25 to 29.9 as being overweight and those who are obese as having a BMI of over 30,” Dr. Meredith explained.

And while obesity is indeed a risk factor for developing this cancer, what wasn't clear was whether a high BMI has an impact on surgical complications and how long a patient with esophageal cancer lives after treatment (survival).

Moffitt researchers reviewed literature and examined data from 303 esophageal cancer patients who had been treated with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

The patients were grouped according to their BMI - less than 25 to greater than 35. 

“Our study demonstrated no significant differences in overall survival or disease-free survival in relation to BMI for patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma who underwent surgery after prior treatment with chemotherapy and radiation,” Dr. Meredith said.

Researcher found no differences in post-surgical complications or deaths linked with BMI.

“In short, our data failed to demonstrate a link between BMI and surgical outcome,” Dr. Meredith concluded.

This study was published in the April, 2012 online issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, published by the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.

No funding or financial disclosure information was available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 17, 2012
Last Updated:
April 17, 2012