Women who have a higher hip-to-waist ratio may have an increased risk of developing cancer of the womb, a new study has found.
The findings strongly suggest that central obesity may have a key role to play in this type of cancer. Central obesity refers to when the majority of body fat is stored around the abdomen. It is already strongly linked with type 2 diabetes.
Waist-to-hip ratio is a measure of how much body fat a person has and how it is distributed. It is measured by dividing the waist measurement by the hip measurement. It measures how much fat is around the waist. This is known to be the most dangerous place to have excess body fat.
A waist-to-hip ratio above 0.85 for women, or above 0.9 for men, is a marker for obesity.
This study, which was part-funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), found that the risk of womb cancer increased by 21% for each 0.1 increase in waist-to-hip ratio.
"These results demonstrate how important it is for women to make sure they maintain a healthy weight in order to reduce their cancer risk," emphasised one of the researchers, Prof Konstantinos Tsilidis of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece and Imperial College London
Also commenting on the findings, Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of research funding at the WCRF, said that it is ‘incredibly important that people are aware of the dangers of excess body fat, particularly around their waist'.
"We know that extra weight around the waist increases the risk of a range of health conditions, such as diabetes, but this important study is helping us shine a light on how body fat around the waist could affect cancer risk. After not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the best thing people can do to help prevent cancer," she added.
Details of these findings are published in the British Medical Journal.
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