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Obese Colon Cancer Survivors Face Poorer Prognosis
Date:3/9/2010

what general underlying cause accounts for the obesity-survival risk connection, Sinicrope said the question remains unanswered. But he speculated that the association might result from the presence of higher insulin and insulin-like growth-factor-1 hormone levels in obese patients.

"We know the obese patients have higher levels of both these hormones, which have been associated with both obesity and colon cancer risk in the past," he noted. "So we think that could be playing a role in this risk."

A number of variables could explain the findings, said Dr. Joseph Martz, chief of the division of colorectal surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

"Obesity is often associated with a higher likelihood for diabetes and other diseases, and overall secondary immune dysfunction. And since colon cancer is somewhat of an immune disease, that is going to be a driving factor," he noted.

"There is also a good deal of data already regarding the supportive benefit of exercise and activity after colon cancer treatment in terms of prognosis," Martz added. "So I think that goes along with the concept that obese individuals are less likely to be in shape. Also, there may be some inherent surgical limitations that could compromise the technical ability to achieve complete removal of the cancer and the potentially affected lymph node tissues when operating on an obese person. All of this may play a role."

On a related front, a separate study published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute provides fresh evidence that being obese does appear to be linked to a higher risk for colon cancer.

However, the research team -- led by Peter T. Campbell of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society -- also found that the obesity-survival link does not seem to hold for all tumors, but only for those that are so-called "microsatellite stable." Obese patients who had this commo
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