Science and Tech


Obesity Raises Ovarian Cancer Risk: Study

A new study says a five-point increase in a woman's BMI is linked to a 6 percent increase in cancer risk.
Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 11, 2014

Researchers are finding out more and more about the negative side effects of obesity. Now, a new report says excess weight can increase a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer.

As part of an ongoing study, researchers from the American Institute for Cancer Research looked at the data on 4 million women from 25 separate studies.

Of the 16,000 of those women who had developed ovarian cancer, the researchers observed that a five-point increase in a woman's body-mass index, or BMI, increases her risk of developing ovarian cancer by 6 percent. (Via WJLA)

To be clear, the National Institutes of Health classifies a woman with a BMI above 25 as overweight and a BMI above 30 as obese.

But according to NBC, the researchers note a woman doesn't have to be obese for the cancer risk to increase. Even overweight women, or those with a BMI of about 28, are at a higher than normal risk.

Obesity is already linked to many other diseases and health disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome. (Via University of California)

But this new report is the first to link obesity as a probable cause of ovarian cancer. As one researcher involved with the study puts it, "Previously we only knew about risk factors that are fixed, such as age and family history of the disease, but now we can say that keeping to a healthy weight helps reduce the risk of getting ovarian cancer." (Via World Cancer Research Fund)

Researchers say the findings mark a significant advancement in the prevention of ovarian cancer. USA Today reports although genetic factors cannot be controlled, maintaining a healthy weight can prevent the development of 1 in 6 cases of various cancers. 

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 22,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, and more than 14,000 die as a result of the disease.