MONDAY, April 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Higher body mass index (BMI), especially before age 50, is associated with increased pancreatic cancer mortality, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the correlation between BMI and pancreatic cancer mortality by age at BMI assessment for 963,317 U.S. adults aged 30 to 89 years at enrollment. During follow-up, 8,354 participants died of pancreatic cancer.

The researchers found that the hazard ratios decreased as age at BMI assessment increased. Per five BMI units, the hazard ratios were 1.25, 1.19, 1.14, and 1.13 for those aged 30 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, and 70 to 89 years, respectively (P trend, 0.005). Compared with earlier birth cohorts, the prevalence of obesity in early middle age is substantially higher in more recent U.S. birth cohorts. Based on a hazard ratio of 1.25 per five BMI units at age 45 years, 28 percent of pancreatic cancer deaths among those born from 1970 to 1974 will be attributable to BMI levels >25 kg/m², nearly double the equivalent percentage for those born in the 1930s.

"Our results strongly suggest that to stop and eventually reverse recent increases in pancreatic cancer rates, we will need to do better in preventing excess weight gain in children and younger adults, an achievement which would help prevent many other diseases as well," Jacobs said in a statement.

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Updated on May 27, 2022

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