Ovarian Cancer Survival Rate Lower in Obese Women – Fat Tissue Excrete Hormone or Protein Causing Aggressive Growth

Ovarian Cancer Survival Rate Lower in Obese Women – Fat Tissue Excrete Hormone or Protein Causing Aggressive Growth

Obese women have a lower survival rate for ovarian cancer according to researchers from California. This is the first study to identify weight as an independent factor for ovarian cancer in disease progression and overall survival.

Dr. Andrew Li says that the study suggests “that there is an element in the fat tissue itself that influences the outcome of this disease in obese women.” Li is the study’s principal investigator at Cedars-Sinai’s Women’s Cancer Research Institute at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

So how does being fat affect the outcome? Li says “fat tissue excretes a hormone or protein that causes ovarian cancer cells to grow more aggressively”. He says this is one possible explanation but more research is needed. “The next steps will be to examine this relationship more closely, and to determine the exact biological mechanisms that influence tumor growth in ovarian cancer.”

The researchers say that ovarian cancer is one of the most lethal cancers and affects one in 60 women. Most are diagnosed in advanced stages and 70 percent of those diagnosed will die within five years.

Li and his colleagues examined data from 216 patients with epithelial ovarian cancer to identify relationships between obesity, ovarian cancer, tumor biology and outcome. Comparison of the obese women (35 of 216) to ideal-weight women (108 of 216) showed 29 percent of the obese women and 10 percent of normal-weight women had localized disease. However, obesity was shown to have a significant effect on both the recurrence and mortality of women with advanced disease. The cellular characteristics of the tumors found in the two groups also appeared to be different.

The study has been published online in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer.

By Marsha Quinn

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