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Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Mar 1;167(5):586-97. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwm361. Epub 2008 Feb 12.

Adiposity, physical activity, and pancreatic cancer in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Cohort.

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  • 1Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD, USA.


Obesity and lack of physical activity have been inconsistently associated with pancreatic cancer. Using data from a self-administered baseline questionnaire (1995-1996), the authors investigated the association between adiposity and physical activity and pancreatic cancer in 495,035 participants of the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study who were aged 50-71 years. To avoid the influence of subclinical disease, follow-up time started 1 year after baseline, and subjects with a body mass index (BMI) of <18.5 kg/m(2) were excluded. A subcohort (n = 302,060) completed a second questionnaire with information about physical activity and waist and hip circumference. During follow-up though 2000, 654 pancreatic cancer cases were identified. The authors used Cox proportional hazard models to generate adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Compared with those with a BMI of 18.5-<25, those with a BMI of >/=35 had a 45% greater pancreatic cancer risk (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 2.02; p(trend) = 0.02). Significant positive associations for BMI were observed among nonsmokers (for BMI > or =35: hazard ratio = 1.70, 95% CI: 1.14, 2.53; p(trend) = 0.004) but not recent smokers (p(interaction) = 0.08). Waist circumference was positively associated with pancreatic cancer (fourth vs. first quartile: hazard ratio = 2.53, 95% CI: 1.13, 5.65; p(trend) = 0.04) in women but not men. The authors observed no association with physical activity. Their results suggest a positive association between adiposity and pancreatic cancer.

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