High adolescent BMI is linked to increased pancreatic cancer risk

  • Levi Z & al.
  • Cancer
  • 12 Nov 2018

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Adolescent obesity or overweight in men and women and high-normal BMI in men are linked to increased pancreatic cancer risk.

Why this matters

  • Adult obesity is tied to risk for pancreatic cancer, the sixth most common cause of cancer mortality worldwide.
  • Accompanying editorial suggests that systemwide inflammation associated with obesity might underlie the connection.

Key results

  • Median follow-up, 23.3 years.
  • In men, BMI values tracked with pancreatic cancer risk, vs low-normal BMI (HRs; 95% CIs): 
    • High-normal: 1.49 (1.04-2.13).
    • Overweight: 1.97 (1.39-2.80).
    • Obesity: 3.67 (2.52-5.34).
  • For women, vs low-normal BMI, obesity was linked to increased pancreatic cancer risk: HR, 4.07 (95% CI, 1.78-9.29). 
  • At the population level, obesity/overweight contributed 10.9% (95% CI, 6.1%-15.6%) of risk.

Study design

  • 1,087,358 Israeli Jewish men and 707,212 women had physical exams at ages 16-19 years (1967-2002).
  • BMI categories: 
    • low-normal (≥5th to th percentile), 
    • normal weight (5th to th percentile), 
    • high-normal (≥75th to th percentile),
    • overweight (85th to th percentile),
    • obesity (≥95th percentile). 
  • Pancreatic cancer incidence identified through national cancer registry, HRs estimated.
  • Funding: Israel Cancer Research Fund (USA); Environment and Health Fund (Israel).

Limitations

  • No data on weight change over time, smoking status, waist-hip ratio.
  • No information on BRCA, tied to increased pancreatic cancer risk.

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