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Risk of Colon Cancer Recurrence Higher in Obese Patients

Compared to those with normal weight, mortality risk is increased in the very obese

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Colon cancer patients with a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 35 kg/m2 have a significantly higher risk of recurrence and mortality compared with their normal weight counterparts, according to study findings reported in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

James J. Dignam, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues conducted a study of 4,288 patients with Dukes B and C colon cancer who were evaluated for recurrence, secondary primary cancer and mortality in relation to their BMI at the time of diagnosis.

Patients who were classified as very obese (BMI at or above 35 kg/m2) had a 38 percent higher risk of recurrence or secondary primary tumor compared to those with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2. The odds of mortality for very obese patients were 1.28 times those for patients of normal weight. For underweight patients (those with a BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2), the odds of death were 1.49 times those of patients with normal weight, primarily due to non-colon cancer causes.

"Recent evidence suggests that physical activity may reduce the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death," the authors write. "Physicians might use the frequent encounters they have with these patients to counsel them regarding the possibility of modifying this risk with lifestyle changes."

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