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Obesity Linked with Higher Ovarian Cancer Risk

Mar 12, 2014 04:35 AM EDT

A new study report suggests that excess weight might increase ovarian cancer risk.

Ovarian cancer develops in the tissues of ovary, according to National Cancer Institute. An estimated 22,240 cases of the cancer were reported in the U.S. last year.

"We estimated a 6 percent increase in [ovarian cancer] risk per five [points] increase in body-mass index," said report author Dr. Elisa Bandera at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, HealthDay reported.

According to Bandera, the average woman's lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1.4 percent.

Obesity increases risk of several types of cancers including breast (in post menopausal women), kidney, pancreas and rectum cancers. According to American Cancer Society, excess body weight might increase cancer risk via several mechanisms such as hormone regulation, immune system or inflammation.

The latest study report was based on 25 population-based studies. Researchers looked at data on diet, weight and levels of physical activity, Healthday reported.  They found that excess weight is linked with an increase in ovarian cancer risk. The risk is especially high for women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI is an indirect way of determining fat levels in the body.

"We know that obesity affects hormones known to affect the cancer process," Bandera told HealthDay. "It also leads to insulin resistance and [high levels of insulin], as well as a chronic systemic inflammation. Inflammation, in particular, has been a major factor implicated in ovarian cancer development and is also associated with poorer survival."

Previous study by National Institute on Aging researchers, also found a link between fat and cancer risk. NIA researchers had measured fat directly than relying on indirect methods of assessing fat levels such as BMI. 

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