Background: Although excess body weight has been associated with cancers of the gastric cardia, relationships with gastric cancer at other anatomic subsites are not well defined. Furthermore, subsite-specific associations with attained height have not been fully assessed.
Methods: In 1995-1996, 483,700 Whites enrolling in the multi-state NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study self-reported height and weight. Gastric cancers occurring through 31 December 2006 were ascertained from regional population-based registries. We used Cox regression models to estimate cancer hazard ratios (HRs) for sex-specific tertiles of height and weight and for body mass index (BMI) categories of the World Health Organization.
Results: One thousand incident cancers (48 % localized to the cardia, 4 % fundus, 6 % corpus, 3 % greater curvature, 6 % lesser curvature, 10 % antrum, 2 % pylorus, 5 % overlapping lesion, and 16 % unspecified) occurred an average of 5.4 years after enrollment. After controlling for effects of age, sex, education, and smoking, we found an inverse association between height and total noncardia cancers (i.e., fundus, corpus, greater and lesser curvatures, antrum, and pylorus), with HRs vs. tertile 1 of 0.65 and 0.71 for tertiles 2 and 3, respectively (p trend = 0.016). Trends were consistent for individual noncardia subsites. In contrast, although weight and BMI were each associated with risk of cardia cancer, neither was associated with total noncardia cancer nor individual subsites.
Conclusion: Noncardia gastric cancer is associated with short stature but not with high body weight or obesity. The excess risk for shorter adults would be consistent with the known association of chronic H. pylori infection with growth retardation during childhood.