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Obesity-Associated Cancers and Age Demographics

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Key Points

  • From 2000 to 2016, the percentage of incident obesity-associated cancer and nonobesity-associated cancer cases increased in the 50- to 64-year age group (range of increase = 25.3% for non-Hispanic white women to 197.8% in Hispanic men).
  • Logistic regression analysis showed a greater annual increase in the odds for obesity-associated cancers than nonobesity-associated cancers in the 50- to 64-year age group.

A study published by Koroukian et al in JAMA Network Open found that from 2000 to 2016, incident obesity-associated cancers were increasingly found in younger age groups. The authors suggest that interventions are needed to reduce obesity and to implement individualized screening programs.

The population-based, cross-sectional study used data from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results sites to determine the amount of patients diagnosed with incident obesity-associated and nonobesity-associated cancers from January 2000 to December 2016. Researchers determined 2,665,574 incident obesity-associated cancers and 3,448,126 non–obesity-associated cancers diagnosed in that time frame.

The main outcomes and measures studied were the changes in the age distribution of incident obesity-associated cancers over time, across race/ethnicity- and sex-specific strata.

Study Findings

From 2000 to 2016, the percentage of incident obesity-associated cancer and non–obesity-associated cancer cases increased in the 50- to 64-year age group (range of increase = 25.3% for non-Hispanic white women to 197.8% in Hispanic men). In the 20- to 49-year age group, the change in the percentage of obesity-associated cancer cases ranged from -5.9% in non-Hispanic white women to 94.6% in Hispanic women. In the 65-year and older age group, the increase ranged from 2.5% in non-Hispanic white women to 102% in Hispanic women.

Logistic regression analysis showed a greater annual increase in the odds for obesity-associated cancers than non–obesity-associated cancers in the 50- to 64-year age group. Among men in the 50- to 64-year age group, the obesity-associated cancer to non–obesity-associated cancer ratio of odds ratios ranged from 1.005 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.002–1.008) in non-Hispanic black men to 1.013 (95% CI = 1.012–1.014) in non-Hispanic white men. Among women in the 50- to 64-year age group, the obesity-associated cancer to non–obesity-associated cancer ratio of odds ratios ranged from 1.002 (95% CI = 0.999–1.006) in Hispanic women to 1.005 (95% CI = 1.002–1.009) in non-Hispanic black women.

Logistic regression analysis showed an annual decrease in the odds for obesity-associated cancers than nonobesity-associated cancers in 65 years and older group. In both men and women aged 65 or older, the obesity-associated cancer vs non–obesity-associated cancer ratio of odds ratios was consistently less than 1.000 for all race/ethnicity groups.

The authors concluded, “Our trend analysis spanning the 17-year period of 2000 to 2016 indicated a shift in the number of obesity-associated cancers to younger age groups. The findings suggest that public health interventions are needed to prevent and reduce obesity and other known risk factors, to implement individualized screening strategies, and to disrupt the obesity-cancer association.”

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit jamanetwork.com.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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