Objective: Available evidence supports the emerging hypothesis that metabolic syndrome may be associated with the risk of some common cancers. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the association between metabolic syndrome and risk of cancer at different sites.
Research design and methods: We conducted an electronic search for articles published through October 2011 without restrictions and by reviewing reference lists from retrieved articles. Every included study was to report risk estimates with 95% CIs for the association between metabolic syndrome and cancer.
Results: We analyzed 116 datasets from 43 articles, including 38,940 cases of cancer. In cohort studies in men, the presence of metabolic syndrome was associated with liver (relative risk 1.43, P < 0.0001), colorectal (1.25, P < 0.001), and bladder cancer (1.10, P = 0.013). In cohort studies in women, the presence of metabolic syndrome was associated with endometrial (1.61, P = 0.001), pancreatic (1.58, P < 0.0001), breast postmenopausal (1.56, P = 0.017), rectal (1.52, P = 0.005), and colorectal (1.34, P = 0.006) cancers. Associations with metabolic syndrome were stronger in women than in men for pancreatic (P = 0.01) and rectal (P = 0.01) cancers. Associations were different between ethnic groups: we recorded stronger associations in Asia populations for liver cancer (P = 0.002), in European populations for colorectal cancer in women (P = 0.004), and in U.S. populations (whites) for prostate cancer (P = 0.001).
Conclusions: Metabolic syndrome is associated with increased risk of common cancers; for some cancers, the risk differs betweens sexes, populations, and definitions of metabolic syndrome.