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Ovarian Cancer Risk Higher in Obese Women

Risk even higher among women who never used hormone therapy

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obese women are at modestly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, particularly if they never used menopausal hormone therapy, according to a report published online Jan. 6 in Cancer.

Michael F. Leitzmann, M.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues examined the association between body mass index (BMI) and ovarian cancer in 94,525 women in the United States. Obesity was defined as a BMI of 30 or greater while normal weight was defined as a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. During a follow-up of seven years, 303 women developed ovarian cancer.

The investigators found a higher risk of ovarian cancer in obese women compared with normal weight women (multivariate relative risk 1.26). The risk for obese women was even higher when considering only women who never used menopausal hormone therapy (MVRR, 1.83), the researchers report. Obese women also had a higher risk of ovarian cancer than normal weight women when considering only women without a family history of ovarian cancer (MVRR, 1.36), the report indicates.

"In conclusion, this study confirms a modest positive relation between BMI and risk for ovarian cancer," Leitzmann and colleagues write. "Our results also add support to very limited available evidence that the potential adverse effect of excess body mass on ovarian cancer risk is most apparent given a low exposure to exogenous estrogens, as is the case among women who never used menopausal hormone therapy."

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