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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Bigger Waist, Bigger Colon Cancer Risk

Obesity -- Especially Abdominal Obesity -- Increases Colon Cancer Risk
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 7, 2007 - The bigger your waistline, the bigger your risk of colon cancer.

This finding, from an analysis of 30 long-term studies of colon cancer, reinforces the link between obesity and colon cancer in men and, to a lesser extent, in women. Obesity, the study shows, boosts the risk of rectal cancer in men but not in women.

Perhaps most importantly, the study suggests that belly fat is more relevant to colon cancer risk than fat in other places. For every 4 inches gained around the waist, the risk of colon cancer goes up 33% in men and 16% in women.

"Abdominal obesity was more strongly related to increased colon cancer risk than was overall obesity," report study researchers Susanna C. Larsson, MSc, and Alicja Wolk, DMSc, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

It's not clear why obesity is more likely to cause colon and rectal cancer in men than in women.

The findings appear in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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