Background Obesity has been proposed as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
Methods Pooled data were analyzed from the National Cancer Institute Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Consortium (PanScan) to study the association between prediagnostic anthropometric measures and risk of pancreatic cancer. PanScan applied a nested case-control study design and included 2170 cases and 2209 control subjects. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using unconditional logistic regression for cohort-specific quartiles of body mass index (BMI [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared]), weight, height, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio as well as conventional BMI categories (underweight, <18.5; normal weight, 18.5-24.9; overweight, 25.0-29.9; obese, 30.0-34.9; and severely obese, ≥35.0). Models were adjusted for potential confounders.
Results In all of the participants, a positive association between increasing BMI and risk of pancreatic cancer was observed (adjusted OR for the highest vs lowest BMI quartile, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.12-1.58; Ptrend < .001). In men, the adjusted OR for pancreatic cancer for the highest vs lowest quartile of BMI was 1.33 (95% CI, 1.04-1.69; Ptrend < .03), and in women it was 1.34 (95% CI, 1.05-1.70; Ptrend = .01). Increased waist to hip ratio was associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer in women (adjusted OR for the highest vs lowest quartile, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.31-2.69; Ptrend = .003) but less so in men.
Conclusions These findings provide strong support for a positive association between BMI and pancreatic cancer risk. In addition, centralized fat distribution may increase pancreatic cancer risk, especially in women.