Study links obesity to elevated risk of ovarian cancer

January 5, 2009

A new epidemiological study has found that among women who have never used menopausal hormone therapy, obese women are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women of normal weight. Published in the February 15, 2009 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the research indicates that obesity may contribute to the development of ovarian cancer through a hormonal mechanism.

Ovarian cancer is the most fatal of gynecologic malignancies, and has a 5-year survival rate of only 37 percent. While studies have linked excess body weight to higher risks of certain cancers, little is known about the relationship between body mass index and ovarian cancer risk.

To investigate this issue, Dr. Michael F. Leitzmann of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues studied 94,525 U.S. women aged 50 to 71 years over a period of seven years. The researchers documented 303 ovarian cancer cases during this time and noted that among women who had never taken hormones after menopause, obesity was associated with an almost 80 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer. In contrast, no link between body weight and ovarian cancer was evident for women who had ever used menopausal hormone therapy.

According to Dr. Leitzmann, these findings support the hypothesis that obesity may enhance ovarian cancer risk in part through its hormonal effects. Excess body mass in postmenopausal women leads to an increased production of estrogen, which in turn may stimulate the growth of ovarian cells and play a role in the development of ovarian cancer.

Among women with no family history of ovarian cancer, obesity and increased ovarian cancer risk were also linked in this study. However, women that did have a positive family history of ovarian cancer showed no association between body mass and ovarian cancer risk.

These latest findings provide important additional information related to women's risks of developing ovarian cancer. "The observed relations between obesity and ovarian cancer risk have relevance for public health programs aimed at reducing obesity in the population," the authors wrote.

Article: "Body mass index and risk of ovarian cancer." Michael F. Leitzmann, Corinna Koebnick, Kim N. Danforth, Louise A. Brinton, Steven C. Moore, Albert R. Hollenbeck, Arthur Schatzkin, and James V. Lacey, Jr. CANCER; Published Online: January 05, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24086); Print Issue Date: February 15, 2009.

Source: American Cancer Society

Explore further: Combination strategy could hold promise for ovarian cancer

Related Stories

Combination strategy could hold promise for ovarian cancer

December 5, 2017
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers demonstrated that mice with ovarian cancer that received drugs to reactivate dormant genes along with other drugs that activate the immune system had a greater reduction of tumor ...

Temporary ovarian suppression with hormone analog may preserve fertility during breast cancer chemotherapy

December 7, 2017
Meta-analysis of individual patient data from five randomized clinical trials provided a high level of evidence that treatment with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog (GnRHa) could safely and effectively protect ovarian ...

Racial disparities persist in the survival of patients with ovarian, colon, and breast cancer

December 5, 2017
Three new articles present trends in survival for patients with ovarian, colon, and breast cancer in the United States by race and stage. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, ...

Ovarian CA screening potentially cost-effective in the U.S.

December 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Multimodal screening (MMS) for ovarian cancer is potentially cost-effective in the United States, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in JAMA Oncology.

A new role for an old protein in breast cancer

December 4, 2017
Scientists led by Dr Chris Toseland of the University's School of Biosciences studied a protein called Myosin VI, a molecular motor which acts as a courier to transport other proteins within our cells. Myosin VI is highly ...

PARP inhibitor improves progression-free survival in patients with advanced breast cancers and BRCA

December 8, 2017
In a randomized, Phase III trial led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the PARP inhibitor talazoparib extended progression-free survival (PFS) and improved quality-of-life measures over ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover possible master switch for programming cancer immunotherapy

December 11, 2017
During infection or tumor growth, a type of specialized white blood cells called CD8+ T cells rapidly multiply within the spleen and lymph nodes and acquire the ability to kill diseased cells. Some of these killer T cells ...

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

Insights on how SHARPIN promotes cancer progression

December 11, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery (SBP) and the Technion in Israel have found a new role for the SHARPIN protein. In addition to being one of three proteins in the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex ...

Glioblastoma survival mechanism reveals new therapeutic target

December 11, 2017
A Northwestern Medicine study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, has provided new insights into a mechanism of tumor survival in glioblastoma and demonstrated that inhibiting the process could enhance the effects of radiation ...

Liver cancer: Lipid synthesis promotes tumor formation

December 11, 2017
Lipids comprise an optimal energy source and an important cell component. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and from the University of Geneva have now discovered that the protein mTOR stimulates the ...

Use of chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer declines, study says

December 11, 2017
A study of nearly 3,000 women with early stage breast cancer indicates a recent, significant decline in the use of chemotherapy despite the lack of any change in national treatment recommendations or guidelines, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.