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Obesity found to be a risk factor for multiple myeloma

PHILADELPHIA -- An obese person is more likely than a lean person to develop multiple myeloma, according to researchers from Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health. Their findings indicate that Body Mass Index (BMI) a statistical measure that scales weight to height provides an indicator for ones risk of developing multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells that produce antibodies. Multiple myeloma currently affects more than 50,000 people in the U.S., and the five-year survival rates of the cancer are below 40 percent.

The study, published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, takes its data from over 100,000 participants in the on-going Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, two similar large-scale studies. The study findings were similar to those from previously published studies that included smaller numbers of multiple myeloma patients, and/or were based on a one-time recording of height and weight.

I find the results of these studies encouraging, since they show consistent results about the first risk factor for multiple myeloma that people can actually modify, said the studys lead author Brenda M. Birmann, Sc.D., a researcher in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Treatment options for this disease are improving, but it is also important to identify risk factors that could be modified. We would like to learn how to prevent its occurrence.

The Brigham and Womens Hospital-based Nurses Health Study has followed the health of female registered nurses since 1976, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, based at Harvard School of Public Health, has followed males from several health professions since 1986. These studies recorded height, weight and physical activity for each person enrolled, as well as diet, med
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
19-Jul-2007


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