August 29, 2006

Obesity may make ovarian cancer more aggressive

By Anthony J. Brown, MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Findings from a new study
confirm that obesity is associated with decreased survival
among women with ovarian cancer.

"A large study reported last year showed that obesity
adversely affects the survival of a number of cancers,
including ovarian," senior author Dr. Andrew J. Li, from
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told Reuters

Li explained that his team wanted to see if this was due to
the presence of other concurrent illnesses and conditions, such
as diabetes and high blood pressure, or if obesity was having a
direct effect on the cancer.

The current study, in the medical journal Cancer, involved
216 patients who underwent surgery for ovarian cancer at the
researchers' institution. Twenty-five percent of patients were
considered overweight, having a body mass index of at least 25
but less than 30, while 16 percent were obese, having a BMI of
at least 30.

As expected, diabetes and hypertension were more common
among obese patients. However, even after accounting for these
factors, obese women with advanced ovarian cancer still had
worse survival than their counterparts with lower BMIs.

"Based on our findings, we think there is something
secreted by fat tissue that affects tumor biology," Li said. "

Li said his team is now involved in studies to shed light
"on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the association
between obesity and ovarian cancer survival."

Source: Cancer, online August 28, 2006.