Women with ovarian cancer who are overweight or obese fare worse than normal-weight patients, a new study shows.
“This is just one more reason why women should work to maintain an ideal body weight,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Andrew Li of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told Reuters Health.
There is strong evidence that overweight men and women have a worse prognosis when diagnosed with certain cancers, and they may also be more likely to develop some types of cancer than people of normal weight, Li and his colleagues note in the medical journal Cancer.
To investigate the influence of excess weight on progression of ovarian cancer and survival, Li and his colleagues looked at 216 patients who underwent surgery for ovarian cancer at their hospital between 1996 and 2003.
Obese or overweight women were more likely to be diagnosed at stage 1, meaning the cancer had not spread, than normal-weight women, the researchers found. However, among patients with more advanced cancer, the greater their body mass index (BMI), the shorter their survival free of disease and their overall survival.
Li said it’s possible that fat tissue may be secreting factors or hormones that accelerate tumor growth. “It may not increase your risk, but its gong to make your tumor behave more aggressively,” he explained.
He and his colleagues are currently investigating how overweight and obesity may influence tumor growth.
SOURCE: Cancer, October 1, 2006.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD