gms | German Medical Science

Kongress Medizin und Gesellschaft 2007

17. bis 21.09.2007, Augsburg

Weight change and incidence of cancer: results of a large cohort study with more than 65,000 adults in Austria

Meeting Abstract

  • Kilian Rapp - Universität Ulm, Ulm
  • Jochen Klenk - Universität Ulm, Ulm
  • Hans Concin - Agency for Preventive and Social Medicine, Bregenz
  • Günter Diem - Agency for Preventive and Social Medicine, Bregenz
  • Wilhelm Oberaigner - Cancer Registry of Tyrol, Innsbruck
  • Hanno Ulmer - Department of Medical Statistics, Informatics and Health Economics, Innsbruck

Kongress Medizin und Gesellschaft 2007. Augsburg, 17.-21.09.2007. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2007. Doc07gmds318

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 6, 2007

© 2007 Rapp et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: Obesity is an established risk factor for several types of cancer. Data about weight change and cancer incidence, however, are limited.

Objectives: To investigate the relationship between weight change and incidence of all cancers combined and of specific types of cancer.

Methods: A prospective investigation of a population-based cohort of 65,649 Austrian men and women was performed. Weight change was assessed by at least 2 measurements within 7 (+/- 2) years. Mean time of follow-up was 8.0 years. Incident cancer (other than non-melanoma skin cancers) was ascertained by a population-based cancer registry (n=3,128). Cox-proportional-hazards models were used to estimate hazard rate ratios (HR) stratified for age and adjusted for baseline body-mass index, fasting blood glucose, smoking and occupational group.

Results: Weight change was not associated with all cancers combined in men and women. Weight loss reduced the risk of colon cancer in men (HR 0.50; 95% CI, 0.29-0.87) but not in women. Strong weight gain (≥0.4 kg/m2/year) was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer (HR 2.23; 95% CI, 1.03-4.82) and a reduced risk of prostate cancer (HR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.48-0.97). The risk reduction in prostate cancer was attributable to low-grade cancer (Gleason-Score <7).

Conclusion: Weight change even over a relatively short period seems to influence cancer incidence in several types of tumours.