The results of the study are published in the November issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention journal.
Other studies have shown overweight and obesity are risk factors for colon, breast, kidney and endometrial cancers. This study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, examined the potential link between obesity and risk of leukemia. Over 14 years, the health of more than 37,000 older Iowa women was monitored; 200 of the women developed leukemia 74 were diagnosed with AML and 88 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
"We found that the risk for getting AML was 90 percent higher in overweight women age 55 and older who had a body mass index (BMI*) of 25-29," says Julie Ross, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She also is an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center and the lead researcher on this study. "In obese women age 55 and older and with a BMI of 30 or greater, the risk increased to as much as a 140 percent."
The study found little evidence of an association between overweight and obesity with CLL.
AML is cancer that starts in the bone marrow in immature cells that normally should become white blood cells. Acute means the leukemia develops quickly.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 33,400 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed in the United Sates this year. About half of those cases will be acute leukemias. AML is the most common acute leukemia with about 11,900 patients diagnosed annually; 90 percent of them adults age 65 and older. About 8,870 people with AML will die this year. The 5-year survival rate for middle-aged people is about 12 percent and 3 percent for elderly adults
Contact: Mary Lawson
University of Minnesota