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Height, Weight Fluctuations Influence Ovarian Cancer Risk and Survival


A recent study found that being taller in adolescence, as well as losing and gaining weight multiple times, is associated with increased ovarian cancer risk and mortality.

Results of the study were published in Cancer Causes & Control (online January 11, 2018; doi:10.1007/s10552-017-0997-5).

Previous studies have sought to describe the role of anthropometric characteristics in ovarian cancer risk and survival. However, results have been conflicting, and further research is needed to achieve this aim.

Kirsten B Moysich, MS, PhD, department of cancer prevention and control, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY), and colleagues investigated the associations between weight change, height, and height change with risk and outcomes of ovarian cancer. Researchers used data from a large population-based case-control study (HOPE), which enrolled 699 cases of ovarian cancer and 1802 controls.

Unconditional logistic regression was used to adjust for age, race, number of pregnancies, use of oral contraceptives, and family history of breast or ovarian cancer to examine the associations between self-reported height and weight with ovarian cancer risk. Cox proportional hazards regression models were also used to adjust for age and stage as well as to examine the association between the exposure variables with overall survival and progression-free survival among ovarian cancer cases.

Results of the analysis showed an increase risk of ovarian cancer mortality (HR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.05-1.76) and progression (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.04-1.66) for patients gaining more than 20 pounds between the ages of 18 and 30 years. Additionally, losing weight and gaining it back multiple times was inversely associated with both ovarian cancer risk (OR for 1-4 times, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.63-0.97 and OR for 5-9 times, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54-0.99) and mortality.

Furthermore, being taller during adolescence and adulthood was associated with increased risk of mortality. Taller stature and weight gain over lifetime were not related to ovarian cancer risk.

Dr Moysich and colleagues concluded that height and weight and their change over time may impact ovarian cancer risk and survival. “These findings suggest that biological mechanisms underlying these associations may be hormone driven and may play an important role in relation to ovarian carcinogenesis and tumor progression,” they wrote.Zachary Bessette