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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Ovarian Cancer Directly Linked for First Time to Being Overweight

Below story see statistics and information of the National Cancer Institute on Ovarian Cancer and Obesity

March 11, 2014 – Being overweight was directly linked to ovarian cancer, which primarily strikes senior women, in an announcement today by the World Cancer Research Fund International. It is the first time obesity has been directly linked to this deadly cancer, although, many cancer organizations list it as a possible risk factor. This report estimates about five percent of cases in the U.S. are preventable with a healthy body weight.

Researchers working on the organization’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) discovered the link between body weight and the cancer that caused 14,030 deaths in the U.S. last year – 2.4 percent of all cancer deaths. There were 22,240 new cases in U.S.; 1.3 percent of all new cancer cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.

 

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Dr Rachel Thompson, Head of Research Interpretation, said: “We can now say with certainty that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer, just as it does with a number of other cancers such as breast, bowel and womb cancer.

“This means that women can make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of getting ovarian cancer. Previously we only knew about risk factors that are fixed, such as age and family history of the disease, but now we can say that keeping to a healthy weight helps reduce the risk of getting ovarian cancer.”

The low survival rate from ovarian cancer is mainly due to late diagnosis – five-year survival rates are more than 90 per cent if diagnosed early but when caught in the late stage of the disease survival rates are lower than ten per cent.

Data from the Anglia Cancer Network for women diagnosed 2004-08 shows five-year relative survival rates at 92 per cent for Stage I ovarian cancer and 5.6 per cent at Stage IV. Around two-thirds of cases were diagnosed at Stage III and IV.

During the past several decades, the percentage of overweight and obese adults and children has increased markedly in the U.S. The National Cancer Institute says obesity is associated with increased risks of cancers of the esophagus, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, and possibly other cancer types.

Estimates of Percent Cancer Prevented by Healthy Weight

The Continuous Update Project and Second Expert Report identified obesity as a major independent risk factor for cancer. Updated estimates of preventability (PAF%) of cancers of which body fatness is a cause by appropriate body composition, in U.S. and U.K. are shown here.

The table shows separate estimates on how much cancer could be prevented by being a healthy weight for men and women. The combined estimates for men and women were 21% for US, 17% for UK, 14% for Brazil and 11% for China.

Using numbers of new cases of cancer diagnosed annually from GLOBOCAN 2012 for both men and women combined this translates to about 116,000 cases of cancer in the USA, about 23,000 for the UK, about 20,000 for Brazil and about 104,000 for China being preventable if everyone had a healthy weight.

A separate analysis was conducted for these cancers where there is strong evidence that excess weight increases cancer risk.

The table shows separate estimates on how much cancer could be prevented by being a healthy weight for men and women. The combined estimates for men and women were 21% for US, 17% for UK, 14% for Brazil and 11% for China.

Using numbers of new cases of cancer diagnosed annually from GLOBOCAN 2012 for both men and women combined this translates to about 116,000 cases of cancer in the USA, about 23,000 for the UK being preventable if everyone had a healthy weight.

Cancer

USA

UK

 

Male

Female

Male

Female

Oesophagus

32

38

29

33

Pancreas(1)

17

20

14

16

Gallbladder

11

28

8

21

Colorectum(2)

17

15

15

13

Breast(3)

-

17

-

16

Ovary(4)

-

5

-

4

Endometrium(5)

-

50

-

38

Kidney

20

28

17

21

Total combined

19

21

18

17

(1) CUP: Revised Genkinger et al. Int J Cancer 2011; 129: 1708-17.
(2) CUP: Revised estimate  Adams et al. Am J Epidemiol 2007; 166: 36-45.
(3) No revisions required based on CUP breast cancer report.
(4) CUP:New conclusion; estimate from Reeves et al. BMJ 2007; 335: 1134.
(5) CUP - Revised estimate using Park et al. Int J Cancer 2010; 126: 490-9.

Obese people are also at higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a number of other chronic diseases.

In the UK, 61 per cent of adults (57 per cent of women) are overweight or obese, placing them at an increased risk of developing one of eight cancers. It is estimated that one in six cases – a total of 23,400 cases – could be prevented in the UK every year if everyone was a healthy weight.

The organization estimates 116,000 cases of cancer would be avoided in the USA.

A health weight is considered to be a BMI of between 18.5 and 25. Obesity is considered a BMI over 30. World Cancer Research Fund International recommends checking your BMI regularly to see if you are a healthy weight.

(Check your BMI on our Easy to Use BMI Table - click)

The cancers they now link to being overweight or obese are: ovarian, bowel, post-menopausal breast, endometrial, oesophageal, kidney, pancreatic and gall bladder.

Dr Kate Allen, Executive Director of Science and Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund International, said: “These latest findings from the Continuous Update Project show how important body weight is for an increasing number of cancers affecting both men and women. This is just one example of how this resource, the largest of its kind in the world, is helping define public health advice to all of us on how we can reduce our risk of cancer.”

The CUP monitors and analyses research on cancer prevention and draws conclusions on how lifestyle factors such as weight, diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing cancer. A panel of independent experts assesses if the scientific evidence has changed and if this impacts on the 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention. It has so far reported on breast, bowel, pancreatic, womb (endometrial) and ovarian cancer.

The ovarian cancer review analyzed 25 studies involving 4 million women, 16,000 of whom developed ovarian cancer. The studies showed there is a dose-response of a six per cent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer for every five extra BMI units.

  • More information on the CUP here.

 

Obesity and Cancer Risk - National Cancer Institute

Definition of ovarian cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells). 

  • During the past several decades, the percentage of overweight and obese adults and children has increased markedly.
  • Obesity is associated with increased risks of cancers of the esophagus, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, and possibly other cancer types.
  • Obese people are also at higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a number of other chronic diseases.

1.    What is obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which a person has an abnormally high and unhealthy proportion of body fat.

To measure obesity, researchers commonly use a scale known as the body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in meters) squared. BMI provides a more accurate measure of obesity or being overweight than weight alone.

Guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) place adults age 20 and older into the following categories based on their BMI:

BMI

BMI Categories

Below 18.5

Underweight

18.5 to 24.9

Normal

25.0 to 29.9

Overweight

30.0 and above

Obese

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides a BMI calculator.

For children and adolescents (less than 20 years of age), overweight and obesity are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) BMI-for-age growth charts:

BMI

BMI Categories

BMI-for-age at or above sex-specific 85th percentile, but less than 95th percentile

Overweight

BMI-for-age at or above sex-specific 95th percentile

Obese

Compared with people of normal weight, those who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for many diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and certain cancers.

2.    How common is overweight or obesity?

Results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that 68 percent of U.S. adults age 20 years and older are overweight or obese. In 1988-1994, by contrast, only 56 percent of adults age 20 and older were overweight or obese.

In addition, the percentage of children who are overweight or obese has also increased. Among children and teens ages 2 to 19, 17 percent are estimated to be obese, based on the 2007–2008 survey. In 1988–1994, that figure was only 10 percent.

3.    What is known about the relationship between obesity and cancer?

Obesity is associated with increased risks of the following cancer types, and possibly others as well:

    • Esophagus
    • Pancreas
    • Colon and rectum
    • Breast (after menopause)
    • Endometrium (lining of the uterus)
    • Kidney
    • Thyroid
    • Gallbladder

One study, using NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data, estimated that in 2007 in the United States, about 34,000 new cases of cancer in men (4 percent) and 50,500 in women (7 percent) were due to obesity. The percentage of cases attributed to obesity varied widely for different cancer types but was as high as 40 percent for some cancers, particularly endometrial cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma.

A projection of the future health and economic burden of obesity in 2030 estimated that continuation of existing trends in obesity will lead to about 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the United States by 2030. This analysis also found that if every adult reduced their BMI by 1 percent, which would be equivalent to a weight loss of roughly 1 kg (or 2.2 lbs) for an adult of average weight, this would prevent the increase in the number of cancer cases and actually result in the avoidance of about 100,000 new cases of cancer.

Several possible mechanisms have been suggested to explain the association of obesity with increased risk of certain cancers:

    • Fat tissue produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers.
    • Obese people often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in their blood (a condition known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance), which may promote the development of certain tumors.
    • Fat cells produce hormones, called adipokines, that may stimulate or inhibit cell growth. For example, leptin, which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell proliferation, whereas adiponectin, which is less abundant in obese people, may have antiproliferative effects.
    • Fat cells may also have direct and indirect effects on other tumor growth regulators, including mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and AMP-activated protein kinase.
    • Obese people often have chronic low-level, or “subacute,” inflammation, which has been associated with increased cancer risk.

Other possible mechanisms include altered immune responses, effects on the nuclear factor kappa beta system, and oxidative stress.

See the online booklet What You Need To Know About™ Ovarian Cancer to learn about ovarian cancer symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and questions to ask the doctor.

More at National Cancer Institute

 

 

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