Australian Study Links Obesity to Increased Risk of Myeloid Leukemia

A new Australian study suggests a connection between obesity and myeloid leukemia.

In the current findings, increased body weight and waist size were shown to increase the risk of myeloid leukemia but not other blood cancers such as such as multiple myeloma, lymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The study was carried out by a team from the Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne under Graham G. Giles and appears in the August 3 issues of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The eight-year study observed 40,909 people aged 27 to 75 and considered waist and hip size, height and weight, the waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index, the fat mass and fat-free mass of each subject, and data about cancers among the participants.

It was found that overweight people were five times more likely to develop myeloid leukemia. Those with extra weight around the middle also had elevated risks.

Dr. Anna M. Butturini, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California commented on the study. "It is clear from epidemiological studies that there is an increased risk of myeloid leukemia in fat people." In addition she speculated "It is possible that there is something in fat tissue that makes the risk of myeloid leukemia more likely."

Butturini also noted that overweight adults and children who are treated for myeloid leukemia have a greater chance of relapse. This may be because it is more difficult to administer chemotherapy treatment properly for those who are overweight.

"We really don’t know how to dose chemotherapy in fat people," Butturini said. "It could just be the fact that we are not good enough, or it is possible that leukemia cells in fat people respond differently than in non-fat people."
Although experts are seeing more and more of a connection between body size and certain blood cancers, more research is needed before any definite conclusions can be reached

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