Body size and ovarian cancer: case-control study and systematic review (Australia)

Cancer Causes Control. 2001 Nov;12(9):855-63. doi: 10.1023/a:1012267619561.


Objective: Although increased body mass is an established risk factor for a variety of cancers, its relation with cancer of the ovary is unclear. We therefore investigated the association between measures of body mass index (BMI) and ovarian cancer risk.

Methods: Data from an Australian case-control study of 775 ovarian cancer cases and 846 controls were used to examine the association with BMI. We have also summarized the results from a number of other studies that have examined this association.

Results: There was a significant increased risk of ovarian cancer with increasing BMI, with women in the top 15% of the BMI range having an odds ratio (OR) of 1.9 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.3-2.6) compared with those in the middle 30%. Stratifying by physical activity showed a stronger effect among inactive women (OR = 3.0, 95% CI 1.3-6.9). The overall effect was consistent with the findings of most prior population-based case-control studies, while cohort studies reported positive effects closer to the null. Hospital-based studies gave variable results.

Conclusions: Taken together, the evidence is in favor of a small to moderate positive relation between high BMI and occurrence of ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Body Constitution*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*