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 September 29, 2003
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Obesity Hurts and Helps Colon Cancer Patients
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows obesity is associated with a significant increase in mortality and disease recurrence for women with colon cancer. However, obese women in the study had less toxicity from chemotherapy treatments than women with normal weight.

The study included 3,759 adults with stage II and stage III colon cancer. In stage II, the cancer has spread outside the colon to nearby tissue, but it has not gone into the lymph nodes. In stage III, cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.

Researchers found obese women experienced a 24-percent increase in the risk of disease recurrence compared to women of normal weight. Though obese women had increases in disease recurrence and mortality, men showed no increases.

Results from the study also show obesity was not linked to any increase in chemotherapy-related toxicity. Obese patients had lower rates of leukopenia, a condition in which the number of white blood cells circulating in the blood is abnormally low, and toxicity compared to patients of normal weight. Underweight patients had higher rates of nausea, vomiting, and inflammation of the mouth.

Previous studies show obesity is a risk factor for colon cancer. Researchers say elevated glucose and insulin levels appear to promote the growth of malignant lesions in the bowel.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: Cancer, 2003;98:484-495

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