Ladies, Wanna Cut Your Cancer Risks?

Uterine cancer risks increased linearly with BMI increases

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) It’s now thought that a large proportion of cancers are associated with carrying too much weight. Nearly half of all cases of one type of female cancer are linked to obesity. Researchers have drilled down on weight and uterine cancer risks.

A new study found that the higher the body mass index (BMI — a measure of body fat based on height and weight), the higher a woman's risk of developing uterine cancer.

These findings mean that achieving and maintaining one's ideal weight can have a big impact on lowering the risks of this cancer.

"Take the stairs instead of the elevator."

Kristy K. Ward, MD, MAS, a medical fellow in the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of California San Diego in La Jolla, led this study that reviewed data on thousands of women diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Dr. Ward and colleagues examined data from the University HealthSystems Consortium database, which includes information from 116 academic medical centers and 276 affiliate hospitals, representing over 90 percent of US nonprofit academic medical centers.

“Over two-thirds of the US population is currently overweight or obese, and the prevalence continues to increase,” the authors wrote in the background section of the paper.

“Of all the obesity-related cancers in women, endometrial (uterine) cancer is most strongly associated with increasing body mass index, with 39 percent of cases resulting from obesity,” the authors noted.

Uterine cancer will be diagnosed in nearly 50,000 American women this year.

For this study, researchers identified 6,905 overweight and obese women with BMIs of 25 to 39.9 who had undergone a hysterectomy (surgical removal of cervix and uterus). A total of 1,891 of these women had been diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Among overweight women (BMI 25-29.9), 17.5 percent had a uterine malignancy (cancer) and 29.7 percent of obese women (BMI 30-39.9) were diagnosed with cancer of the uterus.

After adjusting for other risk factors such as race (white women are more prone to uterine cancer than black women), age and other medical conditions, the researchers found that every 1-unit increase in BMI was linked to an 11 percent increase in a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with uterine cancer.

"This study clearly confirms that endometrial cancer is associated with obesity,” Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Chicago, told dailyRx News.

“It adds to the current literature that even a small increase in body weight increases the risk of endometrial cancer. Given that the average body weight of US women is constantly going up, endometrial cancer will become much more common and affect the health of US women. The benefits of weight loss will include a reduced risk of endometrial cancer," said Dr. Lengyel, who is a dailyRx Contributing Expert.

This study was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
August 23, 2013
Last Updated:
August 23, 2013