Teen height, weight tied to ovarian cancer risk

August 19, 2003 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Teen height, weight tied to ovarian cancer risk

Women who were tall and heavy during their teenage years appear to be more likely to develop ovarian cancer later in life, Norwegian researchers have found.

Height has been directly tied to the risk of a number of cancers, but its association with ovarian cancer has received little attention. Moreover, previous studies have given conflicting results on a link between weight -- measured as body mass index (BMI) -- and ovarian cancer risk.

To clarify these questions, scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo analyzed data from approximately 1.1 million women who were followed for 25 years, on average. During the nearly 4-decade study period, 7882 confirmed cases of ovarian cancer were reported.

Adolescent BMI was a strong predictor of ovarian cancer risk. Women with adolescent BMIs in the top 15 percent of the population were 56 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than were average-weight women. In contrast, adult BMI did not affect the risk of ovarian cancer.

Height also predicted ovarian cancer risk for women younger than 60 years. For example, women who were175 cm or taller were 29% more likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who were between 160 and 164 cm.

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