Body-Mass Index and Pancreatic Cancer Incidence: A Pooled Analysis of Nine Population-Based Cohort Studies With More Than 340,000 Japanese Subjects

J Epidemiol. 2018 May 5;28(5):245-252. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20160193. Epub 2017 Dec 9.


Background: A high body mass index (BMI) has been proposed as an important risk factor for pancreatic cancer. However, this association of BMI with pancreatic cancer risk has not been confirmed in Asian populations.

Methods: We evaluated the association between BMI (either at baseline or during early adulthood) and pancreatic cancer risk by conducting a pooled analysis of nine population-based prospective cohort studies in Japan with more than 340,000 subjects. Summary hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated by pooling study-specific HRs for unified BMI categories with a random-effects model.

Results: Among Japanese men, being obese at baseline was associated with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer incidence (≥30 kg/m2 compared with 23 to <25 kg/m2, adjusted HR 1.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-2.86). A J-shaped association between BMI during early adulthood and pancreatic cancer incidence was seen in men. In contrast, we observed no clear association among women, although there may be a positive linear association between BMI at baseline and the risk of pancreatic cancer (per 1 kg/m2, adjusted HR 1.02; 95% CI, 1.00-1.05).

Conclusions: Pooling of data from cohort studies with a considerable number of Japanese subjects revealed a significant positive association between obesity and pancreatic cancer risk among men. This information indicates that strategies that effectively prevent obesity among men might lead to a reduced burden of pancreatic cancer, especially in Asian populations.

Keywords: Japanese; body mass index; cohort study; pancreatic cancer; pooled analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution