Anthropometric risk factors for ovarian cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study

Cancer Causes Control. 2021 Mar;32(3):231-239. doi: 10.1007/s10552-020-01377-y. Epub 2021 Jan 22.


Objective: Identifying potentially modifiable risk factors for ovarian cancer is essential for prevention because this cancer is predominantly detected at a late stage. Here, we estimated the relations of general adiposity and measures reflecting body fat distribution to the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer.

Methods: We ascertained 683 ovarian epithelial cancers (343 high-grade serous, 141 non-high grade serous) among 145,575 women, aged 50-72 years (median follow-up 12.6 years), from the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study. Using Cox models, we estimated confounder-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for associations of overall ovarian cancer, high-grade serous and non-high-grade serous carcinoma with body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-hip ratio, waist-height ratio, body adiposity index, body shape index, and abdominal volume index.

Results: Anthropometric measures were unrelated to overall ovarian cancer, high-grade serous cancer, and non-high-grade serous cancer. For example, the HR for overall ovarian cancer per standard deviation increment of body mass index at baseline was 0.98 (95% CI 0.88-1.10). Similar associations were observed with measurements of body fat distribution.

Conclusion: These results do not indicate that adult adiposity is associated with ovarian cancer risk in post-menopausal women.

Keywords: Adiposity; Body fat; Obesity; Ovarian cancer risk.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Weights and Measures*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Postmenopause
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology