Obesity, Lack Of Exercise Increase Cancer Risk
Obesity and inactivity may significantly increase the risk of cancer of the pancreas, a hard-to-treat disease that kills nearly 29,000 Americans each year, a study found.
The study by researchers' at Harvard's School of Public Health and affiliated hospitals is based on data from two general health studies involving more than 150,000 female nurses and male health workers nationwide followed for up to 20 years.
The findings were reported in the August 22, 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the study, researcher Dominique Michaud and colleagues said 350 cases of pancreatic cancer occurred during the follow- up. An increased risk was found in participants with a body-mass index of at least 25, which is considered just slightly overweight.
The biggest risk was in obese participants, with a body-mass index of at least 30, who were 72 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than normal weight people.
Walking or hiking at least four hours weekly was associated with a 54 percent reduction on average in pancreatic cancer risk in overweight and obese participants.
The findings bolster evidence that the disease is linked to abnormal insulin production and diabetes, and suggest that life- style changes might help decrease the risk, the researchers said.
Obesity and inactivity have been linked to numerous health problems, including other types of cancer.
Until now, cigarette smoking was the only convincing "modifiable" risk factor linked to pancreatic cancer. If additional research confirms the findings, there could be "a profound impact" on public health, according to experts.
Source: Associated Press