Metabolic Risk Factors Also Increase Risk for Cancers

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High blood pressure, weight and levels of blood sugar are among the metabolic conditions that increase the risk of several cancers, suggests a study published last month that included over half a million people. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, builds on the research linking cancer to metabolic risk factors – typically associated with diabetes or heart disease.

The study used data from nearly 565,000 middle-aged Europeans, drawn from seven population studies. The studies had collected data on five factors related to the metabolic syndrome: body mass index, blood pressure, and plasma levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Researchers calculated a metabolic risk score for each person.

After 12 years, 21,593 men and 14,348 women were diagnosed with cancer. The higher the risk score level, the greater risk of several cancers. A combination of high blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fats, BMI and cholesterol particularly increase the risk of liver and kidney cancers in men, and endometrial and pancreatic cancers in women.

Men with a high level metabolic risk score showed a 43 percent increased risk of kidney or liver cancer, and almost a 30 percent increased risk of both colon and esophageal cancers.

 Women with a high level score showed slightly more than 50 percent increased risk of both endometrial and pancreatic cancers. Women also showed a 40 percent increased risk of kidney cancer.

Many of these cancers are related to obesity, but factors other than a high BMI were found in this study, the authors note.

The study was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund and the Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds NL.

Source: Tanja Stocks et al. "Metabolic risk score and cancer risk: pooled analysis of seven cohorts." Int. J. Epidemiol. First published online: February 3, 2015.

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    Published on March 4, 2015

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