New results from a prospective study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology show that patients with a body mass index (BMI) in the obese range live on average two to three months less after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, compared with healthy weight patients, even after adjusting for factors that are known to predict survival for patients with this disease, such as age and disease stage. This association was statistically strongest for people who were overweight two decades before their diagnosis.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Most patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which accounts for more than 90% of new cases, survive less than a year after their diagnosis.
Obesity is a major public health problem in the United States and many other countries around the world. While it is well known that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is also associated with cancer risk and outcomes. In fact, scientists predict that obesity will become the leading preventable cause of cancer in the near future.
Several prior studies have shown that elevated BMI increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, but thus far there has been little research on whether BMI affects the aggressiveness of the disease or survival after diagnosis.
"This study adds to mounting evidence for the role of weight control in improving outcomes for patients with cancer. It also reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy weight throughout your life, which may lead to better outcomes after diagnosis and help prevent pancreatic cancer from developing," said senior study author Brian M. Wolpin, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. "While our findings will not affect the way we treat patients today, they provide new leads for investigating
|Contact: Kate Blackburn|
American Society of Clinical Oncology