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Obesity May Up Death Risk in Older Women With Colon Cancer
Date:9/9/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Here's yet another reason to avoid obesity throughout your life: Doing so may improve your chances of survival if you're diagnosed with colon cancer.

Women past menopause who are obese and diagnosed with colon cancer appear to face a greater risk of dying from all causes than those who are at a healthy weight or merely overweight, a new study shows.

And trying to lose weight after the diagnosis may be too late, researchers cautioned. Abdominal obesity even prior to the diagnosis of colon cancer was associated with an increased risk of dying after contracting the disease, according to study author Anna Prizment, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, in Minneapolis.

Body shape may play a role as well.

Women with the disease who have an unhealthy waist-to-hip ratio and a large waist are at increased risk of death, Prizment added.

The study is published in the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women and men combined. It is expected to kill more than 51,000 people -- including nearly 25,000 women -- in the United States in 2010, according to the American Cancer Society.

Many studies have found a link between excess body weight and a higher risk of colon cancer. "But not so many studies have examined how obesity affects survival of the colon cancer patient," Prizment said.

So, with her colleagues, she evaluated women who had participated in the Iowa Women's Health Study, focusing on 1,096 women participants who were diagnosed with colon cancer between 1986 and 2005. Body and weight measurements were obtained before the colon cancer diagnosis.

The study was retrospective, meaning that the data used
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