Health Team

Weight control could reduce pancreatic cancer risk

Posted June 23, 2009 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2009 8:38 p.m. EDT

Researchers have found that weight control may reduce a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

“Increasing evidence suggests that there is association between being overweight and obesity with the risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Donghui Li, of the Anderson Cancer Center.

It’s estimated that nearly 27 percent of all cases of this highly lethal cancer are due in part to excess weight.

Researchers wanted to see if the age at which someone became overweight or obese had any impact.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found being overweight or obese a year prior to diagnosis decreased a patient's survival time.

Being overweight or obese as a teen or younger adult significantly increased the risk of pancreatic cancer later in life.

“Weight control at an early age, at young adulthood is most important to reduce the risk of cancer,” Li said.

Study authors say further research is needed to discover what happens inside the body when individuals are overweight and how that might increase their risk for disease.

Before learning he had pancreatic cancer Roger Giles weighed about 270 pounds. He said living in south Louisiana helped contribute to his diet of high fat and fried foods.

Now down to a healthier 185 pounds, Giles said he wishes he could change his past habits.

“It’s a terrible price to pay for being overweight,” Giles said.