Height, Weight Tied to Ovarian Cancer Risk
Obese, Tall Women May Face Higher Risks
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 19, 2003 -- Tall women or those who were overweight or
obese in their youth may be more likely to develop ovarian cancer later in
life, new research shows.
Researchers suggest ovarian cancer risk may be linked to both
height and obesity among women at various stages of their lives.
The study showed that women who were overweight or obese as
young adults were up to 56% more likely to develop ovarian cancer in adulthood
than those who were average weight.
In addition, tall women younger than 60 also faced a higher
risk of ovarian cancer when compared with shorter women.
Height, BMI, and Ovarian Cancer Risk
The 25-year study, published in the Journal of the National
Cancer Institute, looked at whether body mass index (BMI, a measure of
weight in relation to height used to indicate obesity) or height alone was
linked to ovarian cancer risk in a group of 1.1 million Norwegian women.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer among women.
Researchers say that previous studies have produced conflicting results on
whether a woman's BMI affects her risk of developing ovarian cancer.
In this study, researchers found that the risk of ovarian
cancer was not associated with a woman's BMI as an adult. But women who were
obese in their 20s had a 45% higher risk of ovarian cancer compared with women
who were thin or normal weight at the same age.
They also found that among women under 60, those who were
taller than 5 feet 9 inches were 29% more likely to develop ovarian cancer than
those who were average height (about 5 feet 4 inches).
Researcher Anders Engeland, MSc, PhD, of the Norwegian
Institute of Public Health, and colleagues write that finding suggests that
"insulin-like growth factors may play a role in the development of cancer,
and height may act as a marker for the levels of these growth factors.
"Furthermore, height may be an indicator that early-life
conditions are connected to cancer risk," they write.