Radiographic imaging exposes relationship between obesity and cancer

December 4, 2013, Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press)

Researchers at the National Institute for Aging are working to improve understanding about obesity and cancer. A study, published today in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, is the first to use direct radiographic imaging of adipose tissue rather than estimates like body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference, and focuses on the relationship between obesity and cancer risk in aging populations. Findings emphasize the negative impact of adiposity on long term health particularly for older men and women.

The researchers investigated relationships between fat mass and risk of developing cancer in 2,519 older adults in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study, a prospective, population-based study supported by the National Institute on Aging. They measured total body fat and body fat within the abdomen and thigh including visceral fat (adipose around the internal organs) and subcutaneous fat with radiographic images. Individuals were followed for cancer incidence over 13 years.

According to the study, "results suggest that adiposity may carry risk for cancers beyond those identified as obesity-related by the National Cancer Institute and further suggest a possible sex differential with respect to adipose and cancer risk."

Dr. Rachel Murphy, lead author on the study, is a researcher at the Laboratory of Epidemiology, and Population Sciences, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, in Bethesda, Maryland.

She said, "I think it's important to realize that BMI is not the only indicator of health to concentrate on. After controlling for risk factors we found that greater fat confers risk for cancer in older men and women. For example, women with more overall and more visceral fat had a higher risk of developing cancer."

"For men, greater visceral adipose was a particularly strong risk factor for many types of cancer regardless of the individual's BMI. Men with the most visceral fat had a nearly 3 times higher risk of many types of cancer (esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder) compared to men with little visceral fat. When we controlled for BMI, the risk for visceral fat was strengthened."

"These findings provide new insight into obesity and cancer in old age, and suggest that interventions to target visceral adipose in addition to promotion of healthy body weight may impact future ."

Explore further: Obstructive sleep apnea associated with less visceral fat accumulation in women than men

More information: The article "Association of total and computed tomographic measures of regional adiposity with incident cancer risk: a prospective population-based study of older adults" is available Open Access in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0360

Related Stories

Obstructive sleep apnea associated with less visceral fat accumulation in women than men

May 22, 2013
A new study from researchers in Japan indicates that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is independently associated with visceral (abdominal) fat accumulation only in men, perhaps explaining gender differences in the impact of ...

Central adiposity linked to risk of esophageal cancer

November 21, 2013
(HealthDay)—A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies shows that central adiposity, independent of body mass index (BMI), is associated with increased risk of esophageal inflammation, metaplasia, and ...

Location of body fat can elevate heart disease, cancer risk

July 10, 2013
Individuals with excessive abdominal fat have a greater risk of heart disease and cancer than individuals with a similar body mass index (BMI) who carry their fat in other areas of the body, according to a study published ...

Visceral fat causally linked to intestinal cancer

March 6, 2013
Visceral fat, or fat stored deep in the abdominal cavity, is directly linked to an increased risk for colon cancer, according to data from a mouse study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association ...

Men with belly fat at risk for osteoporosis

November 28, 2012
Visceral, or deep belly, obesity is a risk factor for bone loss and decreased bone strength in men, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Normal weight obesity ups cardiac deaths in older adults

November 27, 2013
(HealthDay)—In older adults, normal weight obesity (NWO) is associated with cardiac abnormalities and increased risk for cardiovascular mortality, according to research published in the Nov. 15 issue of The American Journal ...

Recommended for you

Daily low-dose aspirin may be weapon against ovarian cancer

July 20, 2018
(HealthDay)— One low-dose aspirin a day could help women avoid ovarian cancer or boost their survival should it develop, two new studies suggest.

Discovery of kidney cancer driver could lead to new treatment strategy

July 19, 2018
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists have uncovered a potential therapeutic target for kidney cancers that have a common genetic change. Scientists have known this genetic change ...

High fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce risk of breast cancer, especially aggressive tumors

July 19, 2018
Women who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables each day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumors, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables, according to a new study led by researchers ...

Sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent in young people

July 19, 2018
A world-first study led by University of Sydney has found that Australians aged 18-40 years who were regular users of sunscreen in childhood reduced their risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent, compared to those who rarely ...

Analysis of prostate tumors reveals clues to cancer's aggressiveness

July 19, 2018
Using genetic sequencing, scientists have revealed the complete DNA makeup of more than 100 aggressive prostate tumors, pinpointing important genetic errors these deadly tumors have in common. The study lays the foundation ...

Complementary medicine for cancer can decrease survival

July 19, 2018
People who received complementary therapy for curable cancers were more likely to refuse at least one component of their conventional cancer treatment, and were more likely to die as a result, according to researchers from ...

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.