Obesity, inactivity boost pancreatic cancer risk

October 16, 2001 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Obesity, inactivity boost pancreatic cancer risk

Obesity and physical inactivity contribute to the risk of cancer of the pancreas, researchers from the Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada report.

The body becomes less sensitive to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin with obesity and inactivity, and diminished sensitivity to insulin leads to higher blood levels of insulin. Higher levels of insulin are thought to increase the risk of cancer of the pancreas.

The investigators used body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, to determine whether or not patients were obese. Men and women with high BMI faced a pancreatic cancer risk 1.5 to 2 times higher than those with low BMI.

Dieting, however, apparently lowered the risk, as both men and women who reported a 10% to 12.5% decrease from their maximum lifetime weight had only about half the risk of cancer of the pancreas faced by others.

Exercise, at least for men, lowered the risk. Men who exercised strenuously at least 8 hours a month had only 59% of the pancreatic cancer risk of men who exercised less.

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