A new study shows obesity may increase the risk of certain types of cervical cancer. The study, led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, reveals obesity and body fat distribution are associated more with adenocarcinoma than with squamous cell carcinoma.
The study involved 124 women with adenocarcinoma, 139 with squamous cell carcinoma, and 307 women without cancer as the control group. Adenocarcinomas involve cells from the walls of many different organs. Squamous cell carcinomas originate from the squamous cell, which comprise the upper layer of skin. The researchers theorized hormonal factors, such as obesity, would affect adenocarcinomas more than squamous cell carcinomas.
They put the women through testing for the human papillomavirus, calculated body mass index, and took waist-to-hip measurements. They found women with the highest body mass index numbers and largest waist-to-hip ratio were more likely to have adenocarcinoma than squamous cell carcinoma. The disease was also more advanced at the time of diagnosis in women who were obese.
The authors write, "Obese women and overweight women appeared to be at a higher risk of cervical adenocarcinoma compared with women who were not overweight or obese." They say previous studies indicate obesity is a risk factor for endometrial cancer and the association between endometrial cancer and obesity is stronger than with cervical cancer. Nevertheless, they say, there is cause for concern.