Young adulthood and adulthood adiposity in relation to incidence of pancreatic cancer: a prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults and a meta-analysis

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Adult adiposity is positively associated with pancreatic cancer in Western populations. Little is known, however, about the association in China where many have lower body mass index (BMI) or about the relevance of young adulthood adiposity for pancreatic cancer in both Western and East Asian populations.


The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) recruited 512 891 adults aged 30–79 years during 2004–2008, recording 595 incident cases of pancreatic cancer during 8-year follow-up. Cox regression yielded adjusted HRs for pancreatic cancer associated with self-reported young adulthood (mean ~25 years) BMI and with measured adulthood (mean ~52 years) BMI and other adiposity measures (eg, waist circumference (WC)). These were further meta-analysed with published prospective studies.


Overall, the mean BMI (SD) was 21.9 (2.6) at age 25 years and 23.7 (3.3) kg/m2 at age 52 years. Young adulthood BMI was strongly positively associated with pancreatic cancer in CKB (adjusted HR=1.36, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.61, per 5 kg/m2 higher BMI) and in meta-analysis of CKB and four other studies (1.18, 1.12 to 1.24). In CKB, there was also a positive association of pancreatic cancer with adulthood BMI (1.11, 0.97 to 1.27, per 5 kg/m2), similar in magnitude to that in meta-analyses of East Asian studies using measured BMI (n=2; 1.08, 0.99 to 1.19) and of Western studies (n=25; 1.10, 1.06 to 1.12). Likewise, meta-analysis of four studies, including CKB, showed a positive association of adulthood WC with pancreatic cancer (1.10, 1.06 to 1.14, per 10 cm).


In both East Asian and Western populations, adiposity was positively associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, with a somewhat stronger association for young than late-life adiposity.

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