Link Between Obesity and Cancer for Older People
Confirmed by Radiographic Imaging
Radiographic imaging exposes relationship between
obesity and cancer in aging population; women with more overall fat
mass, more visceral fat had a higher risk of cancer; fat puts older men
at risk even with healthy BMI
Dec. 4, 2013 - The negative impact of fat on
long-term health, particularly of older people, has been confirmed by
the first use direct radiographic imaging of adipose (fatty) tissue
rather than estimates like body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference.
The study focused on the relationship between obesity and cancer risk in
"I think it's important to realize that BMI is not
the only indicator of health to concentrate on. After controlling for
risk factors we found that greater fat confers risk for cancer in older
men and women. For example, women with more overall fat mass and more
visceral fat had a higher risk of developing cancer," says Dr. Rachel
Murphy, lead author on the study.
She is a researcher at the Laboratory of
Epidemiology, and Population Sciences, Intramural Research Program,
National Institute on Aging, in Bethesda, Maryland.
"For men, greater visceral adipose was a
particularly strong risk factor for many types of cancer regardless of
the individual's BMI. Men with the most visceral fat had a nearly 3
times higher risk of many types of cancer (esophagus, pancreas, colon
and rectum, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder) compared to men with
little visceral fat. When we controlled for BMI, the risk for visceral
fat was strengthened," Dr. Murphy added.
"These findings provide new insight into obesity
and cancer in old age, and suggest that interventions to target visceral
adipose in addition to promotion of healthy body weight may impact
future cancer risk."
Researchers at the National Institute for Aging are
working to improve understanding about obesity and cancer and their
study is published today in the journal Applied Physiology,
Nutrition, and Metabolism.
The researchers investigated relationships between
fat mass and risk of developing cancer in 2,519 older adults in the
Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study, a prospective,
population-based study supported by the National Institute on Aging.
They measured total body fat and body fat within
the abdomen and thigh including visceral fat (adipose around the
internal organs) and subcutaneous fat with radiographic images.
Individuals were followed for cancer incidence over 13 years.
According to the study, "results suggest that
adiposity may carry risk for cancers beyond those identified as
obesity-related by the National Cancer Institute and further suggest a
possible sex differential with respect to adipose and cancer risk."
The article "Association of total and computed
tomographic measures of regional adiposity with incident cancer risk: a
prospective population-based study of older adults" is available Open
Access in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism
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