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Compared with healthy-weight patients, obese colon cancer patients have a higher risk of cancer recurrence and death. These results were published in Clinical Cancer Research.

Obesity is increasingly being recognized as a risk factor not only for cancer development but also for worse outcomes after cancer treatment. Links between obesity and endometrial cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and colorectal cancer are well established, but the effects of obesity appear to extend to several other types of cancer as well.

Body mass index (BMI) is a commonly used (though imperfect) measure of body size. It involves a comparison of weight to height (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is generally considered healthy, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

To assess the relationship between BMI and colon cancer prognosis, researchers evaluated more than 4,000 people with Stage II or Stage III colon cancer.

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Twenty percent of the patients had a BMI of 30 or greater.

Obesity was linked with worse overall survival and a higher risk of cancer recurrence. The impact of obesity on prognosis appeared to be greater for men than for women.

The results provide additional evidence regarding the adverse effects of obesity on cancer prognosis.

Reference: Sinicrope FA, Foster NR, Sargent DJ, O’Connell MJ, Rankin C. Obesity is an independent prognostic variable in colon cancer survivors. Clinical Cancer Research. 2010;16:1884-93.

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