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Cancer Epidemiol. 2012 Aug;36(4):400-8. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

Body mass index and screening for colorectal cancer: gender and attitudinal factors.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, HSC L3, Rm 086, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8036, USA.



Overweight/obese women and men are at increased risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality. Research examining body mass index (BMI) and CRC screening has had mixed results. A clearer understanding of the extent to which high-BMI subgroups are screened for CRC is needed to inform planning for CRC screening promotions targeting BMI.


Data were obtained from a random, population-based sample of women and men at average-risk for CRC (aged 50-75 years) during 2004 (n = 1098). Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate whether BMI category was significantly associated with the probability of reporting recent CRC screening and with the probability of agreeing with statements denoting attitudes/perceptions about CRC and screening. Attitudes/perceptions about CRC and screening were evaluated as potential mediators and moderators of the association between BMI category and CRC screening.


After controlling for characteristics associated with CRC screening, overweight and obese women were each 40% less likely to have CRC screening than women with normal-BMI (OR = 0.6, 95% CI:0.4-0.9 and OR = 0.6, 95% CI:0.3-0.9). BMI category was unrelated to screening among men. Obese women (but not men) were less aware than normal-BMI women that obesity increased risk for CRC (OR = 0.5, 95% CI:0.3-0.9) and less worried about CRC (OR = 0.5, 95% CI:0.3-0.8). However, findings suggest that attitudes/perceptions about CRC and screening did not mediate or moderate the association between BMI category and CRC screening.


Overweight/obese women are at increased risk for CRC because of their greater BMI and their propensity not to screen for CRC. Study findings suggest that potentially modifiable perceptions, e.g., lack of awareness of risk for CRC and less worry about CRC, in this subgroup may not explain the relationship between BMI category and reduced screening.

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