Background: Risk factors for rare gynecological cancers are largely unknown. Initial research has indicated that the metabolic syndrome (MetS) or individual components could play a role.
Materials and methods: The Metabolic syndrome and Cancer project cohort includes 288,834 women. During an average follow-up of 11 years, 82 vulvar, 26 vaginal and 43 other rare gynecological cancers were identified. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated fitting Cox proportional hazards regression models for tertiles and standardized z-scores [with a mean of 0 and a standard deviation (SD) of 1] of body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and MetS. Risk estimates were corrected for random error in the measurement of metabolic factors.
Results: The MetS was associated with increased risk of vulvar [HR 1.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.30-2.41) and vaginal cancer (HR 1.87, 95% CI 1.07-3.25). Among separate MetS components, 1 SD increase in BMI was associated with overall risk (HR 1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.66), vulvar (HR 1.36, 95% CI 1.11-1.69) and vaginal cancer (HR 1.79, 95% CI 1.30-2.46). Blood glucose and triglyceride concentrations were associated with increased risk of vulvar cancer (HR 1.98, 95% CI 1.10-3.58 and HR 2.09, 95% CI 1.39-3.15, respectively).
Conclusion: The results from this first prospective study on rare gynecological cancers suggest that the MetS and its individual components may play a role in the development of these tumors.