Weight, Height & Related Measures
Body size and factors related to size
are associated with the risk of some cancers. These factors include:
- weight status, particularly obesity and weight gain;
- body fat distribution;
- body composition (the balance between lean and fat tissue); and
The Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch (RFMMB) is interested in body size
measures for several reasons:
- Obesity significantly increases the risk of a number of cancers,
including colorectal, endometrial, post-menopausal breast, and
renal cell cancers, and some types of esophageal cancer. The current
prevalence of obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2
or greater, has reached epidemic proportions. In the United States, 33%
of the population aged 20-74 years is classified as obese. In 1976-80,
the prevalence of obesity was 15%.
- Body composition and the distribution of body fat are related to the
production of insulin, insulin-like growth factors, and the metabolism
of sex hormones, which are associated with risk of some cancers.
- The link between weight status and sex hormones suggests that weight gain
during particular life stages may contribute to increased cancer risk.
Proposed critical periods include adolescence, the child-bearing years,