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Obesity can Reduce Survival Rates for Colon Cancer Patients

Update Date: Apr 09, 2014 03:33 PM EDT
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Obesity is a chronic health disease that can lead to many other health problems, such as heart attack and diabetes. In a new study, researchers examined how obesity might play a role in cancer patients' survival rates. They found that obese people who become diagnosed with colon cancer have an increased risk of dying from the disease as well as from other causes.

"Our data provide further evidence that maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life is very important," said study author Peter Campbell, director of the tumor repository in the American Cancer Society's epidemiology research program. "They also suggest that prediagnosis BMI may be something that clinicians should consider when managing patient care."

For this study, the researchers examined more than 6,700 people who were diagnosed with colon cancer. The medical data had information on the patients' BMI (body mass index) two years prior to their cancer diagnosis. BMI measures obesity by calculating weight in relation to height. A BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese. The patients were monitored for an average of a little over five years.

The researchers found that for every five-point increase in one's BMI, there was a seven percent increase in one's risk of death due to colon cancer. The same jump in BMI was tied to a 10 percent increased risk of death due to all causes. The researchers also found that obesity increased risk of death even in tumors that typically have better survival rates. The researchers stated that even though they did not find a cause and effect relationship, maintaining a normal weight is essential for overall health.

"Now that we have seen that obesity attenuates the survival advantage observed for patients with MSI-high (microsatellite instability-high) tumors, we are looking at how it affects other tumor markers that have relevance for colorectal cancer survival," Campbell said according to Medical Xpress.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, CA.

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