For some cancers, overweight patients have greater survival rates

WASHINGTON – It’s called the “obesity paradox.”

Carrying far too many pounds has been proven to increase the risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. But more and more, research is showing that being overweight can help patients survive certain cancers.

The latest evidence comes from researchers with Kaiser Permanente who analyzed the medical records of 3,408 patients diagnosed with stages 1, 2 or 3 of colorectal cancer between 2006 and 2011.

Their study focused on each patient’s body mass index both at the time of diagnosis and 15 months later. The results – published in the online edition of JAMA Oncology — show those considered overweight, with a BMI between 28 and 30, had the highest rate of survival.

These patients were 48 percent less likely to die of the disease when compared to all others, and had a 55 percent lower risk of mortality when compared with patients who were of normal weight or just slightly below that range, but not underweight.

The researchers say they can’t explain why it happens, and that more study is needed. They also stress this obesity paradox does not necessarily apply to other forms of cancer.

Of all cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the United States. Lung cancer remains No. 1.

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