Associations of body mass index with cancer incidence among populations, genders, and menopausal status: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Cancer Epidemiol. 2016 Jun;42:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2016.02.010. Epub 2016 Mar 3.


In order to further reveal the differences of association between body mass index (BMI) and cancer incidence across populations, genders, and menopausal status, we performed comprehensive meta-analysis with eligible citations. The risk ratio (RR) of incidence at 10 different cancer sites (per 5kg/m(2) increase in BMI) were quantified separately by employing generalized least-squares to estimate trends, and combined by meta-analyses. We observed significantly stronger association between increased BMI and breast cancer incidence in the Asia-Pacific group (RR 1.18:1.11-1.26) than in European-Australian (1.05:1.00-1.09) and North-American group (1.06:1.03-1.08) (meta-regression p<0.05). No association between increased BMI and pancreatic cancer incidence (0.94:0.71-1.24) was shown in the Asia-Pacific group (meta-regression p<0.05), whereas positive associations were found in other two groups. A significantly higher RR in men was found for colorectal cancer in comparison with women (meta-regression p<0.05). Compared with postmenopausal women, premenopausal women displayed significantly higher RR for ovarian cancer (pre- vs. post-=1.10 vs. 1.01, meta-regression p<0.05), but lower RR for breast cancer (pre- vs. post-=0.99 vs. 1.11, meta-regression p<0.0001). Our results indicate that overweight or obesity is a strong risk factor of cancer incidence at several cancer sites. Genders, populations, and menopausal status are important factors effecting the association between obesity and cancer incidence for certain cancer types.

Keywords: Body mass index; Cancer incidence; Gender; Meta-analysis; Obesity; Population.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Obesity
  • Overweight*
  • Risk Factors