A large-scale, Europe-wide study comes to the conclusion that body shape determines the risk of cancer and individual types of cancer. The scientists defined four phenotypes.

Cancer is considered the second most common cause of death in Germany. Around one in two people will develop it in the course of their life. Prevention and precaution are all the more important. And above all: knowledge about potential types of cancer and their risks.

A Europe-wide study was able to make a significant contribution. It breaks down the risk of cancer based on four body shapes. The results were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Specifically, the research team led by Anja Sedlmeier from the University of Regensburg has selected six characteristics

four body shape phenotypes (see graphic) were derived. Data from 221,934 women and 118,218 men from nine European countries, including Germany, were evaluated. They were between 35 and 65 years old at the time of data collection (1990-2000). The observation period spanned more than 15 years.

The four body shape phenotypes are associated with a total of 17 different types of cancer, as well as cancer in general. Specifically, the following risks apply to each individual.

First body shape (obesity)

The first phenotype describes people with excessive body fat (obesity). According to the study, they have an increased general risk of cancer, as well as a risk for the following ten types of cancer:

Second body shape (tall, low WHR)

The second phenotype describes taller people with a more straight build. They were found to have a slightly increased general cancer risk and a higher risk of

Initially, there was also an increased risk of thyroid cancer, although this did not stand up to statistical scrutiny by the study authors.

Third body shape (tall, high WHR)

The third phenotype describes larger individuals with increased abdominal fat. They have an increased general cancer risk as well as an increased risk of the following types of cancer:

Limitation: The risk of larynx, mouth and throat cancer does not apply to people who have never smoked.

Fourth body shape (athletic but high BMI, high weight, low WHR)

The fourth body shape is relatively rare, according to the researchers. Although she is athletic, she is strong with a high BMI and body weight. However, with a low hip circumference and low WHR.

It has not been associated with an increased risk of cancer. Initially there was an indication of a risk of thyroid cancer, but this did not stand up to statistical scrutiny.

In the final words of the study, the researchers expressed their satisfaction: “Several completely new connections” had been identified that had previously remained undiscovered in previous studies. “The derived body shapes could reveal the underlying biological pathways and thus provide new insights into cancer development. This knowledge could help develop strategies for cancer prevention.”

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