Central adiposity, obesity during early adulthood, and pancreatic cancer mortality in a pooled analysis of cohort studies

Ann Oncol. 2015 Nov;26(11):2257-66. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdv355. Epub 2015 Sep 7.


Background: Body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity typically assessed in middle age or later, is known to be positively associated with pancreatic cancer. However, little evidence exists regarding the influence of central adiposity, a high BMI during early adulthood, and weight gain after early adulthood on pancreatic cancer risk.

Design: We conducted a pooled analysis of individual-level data from 20 prospective cohort studies in the National Cancer Institute BMI and Mortality Cohort Consortium to examine the association of pancreatic cancer mortality with measures of central adiposity (e.g. waist circumference; n = 647 478; 1947 pancreatic cancer deaths), BMI during early adulthood (ages 18-21 years) and BMI change between early adulthood and cohort enrollment, mostly in middle age or later (n = 1 096 492; 3223 pancreatic cancer deaths). Multivariable hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.

Results: Higher waist-to-hip ratio (HR = 1.09, 95% CI 1.02-1.17 per 0.1 increment) and waist circumference (HR = 1.07, 95% CI 1.00-1.14 per 10 cm) were associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer mortality, even when adjusted for BMI at baseline. BMI during early adulthood was associated with increased pancreatic cancer mortality (HR = 1.18, 95% CI 1.11-1.25 per 5 kg/m(2)), with increased risk observed in both overweight and obese individuals (compared with BMI of 21.0 to <23 kg/m(2), HR = 1.36, 95% CI 1.20-1.55 for BMI 25.0 < 27.5 kg/m(2), HR = 1.48, 95% CI 1.20-1.84 for BMI 27.5 to <30 kg/m(2), HR = 1.43, 95% CI 1.11-1.85 for BMI ≥30 kg/m(2)). BMI gain after early adulthood, adjusted for early adult BMI, was less strongly associated with pancreatic cancer mortality (HR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.01-1.10 per 5 kg/m(2)).

Conclusions: Our results support an association between pancreatic cancer mortality and central obesity, independent of BMI, and also suggest that being overweight or obese during early adulthood may be important in influencing pancreatic cancer mortality risk later in life.

Keywords: BMI; central adiposity; pancreatic cancer; pooled analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / diagnosis
  • Obesity, Abdominal / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult