Body Mass Index and Death Rate of Colorectal Cancer among a National Cohort of U.S. Adults

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Nutrition and Cancer






Substantial evidence suggests that increasing adiposity is associated with an increased death rate of colorectal cancer, but no studies were conducted among national representative populations in the United States. The current study examined the death rate across BMI levels in 7,016 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1971–1975. BMI categories were defined as normal (18.5–24.9 kg/m2), overweight (25–29.9), and obese (≥30). A total of 519 cancer deaths were identified during a 17-yr follow-up with 118,998 person-years. No significantly increased death rates of total cancers, lung, breast, and prostate cancer were observed among participants with an increased BMI. However, colorectal cancer death rates were 0.39, 0.68, and 0.96/1,000 person-years, respectively, for normal weight, overweight, and obese (P value for log-rank trend test < 0.001), and the corresponding adjusted hazard ratios [95% confidence intervals (CI)] were 1.00 (reference), 1.25 (95% CI = 0.72–2.19), and 2.04 (1.08–3.83), respectively. No gender difference of the association was identified. The authors conclude that a significantly increased death rate of colorectal cancer was associated with excess body weight. The current study is an addition to the expanding body of literature indicating an increased risk of colorectal cancer development among the obese.