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      Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality from Cancer in a Prospectively Studied Cohort of U.S. Adults

      , , ,

      New England Journal of Medicine

      Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Abstract

          The influence of excess body weight on the risk of death from cancer has not been fully characterized. In a prospectively studied population of more than 900,000 U.S. adults (404,576 men and 495,477 women) who were free of cancer at enrollment in 1982, there were 57,145 deaths from cancer during 16 years of follow-up. We examined the relation in men and women between the body-mass index in 1982 and the risk of death from all cancers and from cancers at individual sites, while controlling for other risk factors in multivariate proportional-hazards models. We calculated the proportion of all deaths from cancer that was attributable to overweight and obesity in the U.S. population on the basis of risk estimates from the current study and national estimates of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S. adult population. The heaviest members of this cohort (those with a body-mass index [the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters] of at least 40) had death rates from all cancers combined that were 52 percent higher (for men) and 62 percent higher (for women) than the rates in men and women of normal weight. For men, the relative risk of death was 1.52 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.13 to 2.05); for women, the relative risk was 1.62 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.40 to 1.87). In both men and women, body-mass index was also significantly associated with higher rates of death due to cancer of the esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney; the same was true for death due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Significant trends of increasing risk with higher body-mass-index values were observed for death from cancers of the stomach and prostate in men and for death from cancers of the breast, uterus, cervix, and ovary in women. On the basis of associations observed in this study, we estimate that current patterns of overweight and obesity in the United States could account for 14 percent of all deaths from cancer in men and 20 percent of those in women. Increased body weight was associated with increased death rates for all cancers combined and for cancers at multiple specific sites. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Most cited references 43

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          Obesity as a medical problem.

           P Kopelman (2000)
          Obesity is now so common within the world's population that it is beginning to replace undernutrition and infectious diseases as the most significant contributor to ill health. In particular, obesity is associated with diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and sleep-breathing disorders. Obesity is defined by a body-mass index (weight divided by square of the height) of 30 kg m(-2) or greater, but this does not take into account the morbidity and mortality associated with more modest degrees of overweight, nor the detrimental effect of intra-abdominal fat. The global epidemic of obesity results from a combination of genetic susceptibility, increased availability of high-energy foods and decreased requirement for physical activity in modern society. Obesity should no longer be regarded simply as a cosmetic problem affecting certain individuals, but an epidemic that threatens global well being.
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            Body-mass index and mortality in a prospective cohort of U.S. adults.

            Body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) is known to be associated with overall mortality. We investigated the effects of age, race, sex, smoking status, and history of disease on the relation between body-mass index and mortality. In a prospective study of more than 1 million adults in the United States (457,785 men and 588,369 women), 201,622 deaths occurred during 14 years of follow-up. We examined the relation between body-mass index and the risk of death from all causes in four subgroups categorized according to smoking status and history of disease. In healthy people who had never smoked, we further examined whether the relation varied according to race, cause of death, or age. The relative risk was used to assess the relation between mortality and body-mass index. The association between body-mass index and the risk of death was substantially modified by smoking status and the presence of disease. In healthy people who had never smoked, the nadir of the curve for body-mass index and mortality was found at a body-mass index of 23.5 to 24.9 in men and 22.0 to 23.4 in women. Among subjects with the highest body-mass indexes, white men and women had a relative risk of death of 2.58 and 2.00, respectively, as compared with those with a body-mass index of 23.5 to 24.9. Black men and women with the highest body-mass indexes had much lower risks of death (1.35 and 1.21), which did not differ significantly from 1.00. A high body-mass index was most predictive of death from cardiovascular disease, especially in men (relative risk, 2.90; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.37 to 3.56). Heavier men and women in all age groups had an increased risk of death. The risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other diseases increases throughout the range of moderate and severe overweight for both men and women in all age groups. The risk associated with a high body-mass index is greater for whites than for blacks.
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              Body weight and mortality among women.

              The relation between body weight and overall mortality remains controversial despite considerable investigation. We examined the association between body-mass index (defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) and both overall mortality and mortality from specific causes in a cohort of 115,195 U.S. women enrolled in the prospective Nurses' Health Study. These women were 30 to 55 years of age and free of known cardiovascular disease and cancer in 1976. During 16 years of follow-up, we documented 4726 deaths, of which 881 were from cardiovascular disease, 2586 from cancer, and 1259 from other causes. In analyses adjusted only for age, we observed a J-shaped relation between body-mass index and overall mortality. When women who had never smoked were examined separately, no increase in risk was observed among the leaner women, and a more direct relation between weight and mortality emerged (P for trend or = 32.0, relative risk = 2.2 (P for trend < 0.001). Among women with a body-mass index of 32.0 or higher who had never smoked, the relative risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 4.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 2.1 to 7.7), and that of death from cancer was 2.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 3.2), as compared with the risk among women with a body-mass index below 19.0. A weight gain of 10 kg (22 lb) or more since the age of 18 was associated with increased mortality in middle adulthood. Body weight and mortality from all causes were directly related among these middle-aged women. Lean women did not have excess mortality. The lowest mortality rate was observed among women who weighed at least 15 percent less than the U.S. average for women of similar age and among those whose weight had been stable since early adulthood.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                April 24 2003
                April 24 2003
                : 348
                : 17
                : 1625-1638
                10.1056/NEJMoa021423
                12711737
                © 2003
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