Unplanned Weight Loss Viewed as the Second Leading Risk Factor for Cancer

A recent analysis has revealed that sudden drops in an individual’s weight could serve as a major predictor of some types of cancer. Researchers based at the universities of Exeter and Oxford joined forces for the analysis of the findings posted on 25 different studies.

The data utilized was collected for over a decade, ranging from 1994 to 2015. Over 11.5 million patients were included in the study, and the results were posted in the British Journal of General Practice. Data from this analysis indicated that ten types of cancer were related to weight loss including pancreatic, lymphoma, prostate, lung, renal tract and colorectal versions. This discovery placed weight loss as the second highest predictor of risk factors related to cancer.

Guidelines posted by the National Institute for Health Research in Britain identified unexpected weight loss in candidates over 60 years of age as exceeding the threshold risk factor requiring urgent investigation into the cause behind such a development. This margin exhibited an average 3% risk in general cases, with women over the age of 60 displaying an estimated risk reaching up to 6.7%, and their male counterparts representing 14.2% in the same age bracket.

Weight Loss Indicators in Relation to Higher Cancer Risk Factors

Dr. Brian Nicholson, one of the researchers from Exeter University stated the importance of this recent development by highlighting the value that streamlined services have brought to this sector with regard to early identification of such conditions, allowing for more effective treatment. He further goes on to explain that the investigation of non-specific elements such as unwarranted weight loss can develop a coordinated detection plan that could potentially heighten the efficiency experienced in diagnostic endeavors concerning the identification of this condition. This is especially true for patients suffering from common symptoms such as the unexpected reduction of their Body Mass Index.

The researchers stated in their report that doctors who have not specialized in weight loss could potentially ignore this symptom as a precursor to cancer, and withhold further investigation until more common symptoms accompany this original development. This could be potentially inhibitive to the progress that can be made when treating the disease early on and thus further effort should be placed towards the development of this particular subject and related studies.

Cancer and Weight Loss

Though weight loss has long been considered to be one of the symptoms exhibited in cancer patients, it has not been seriously regarded as a precursor to the presence of the condition itself. Dr. Nicholson further insisted on the continuance of this research in an effort to develop a suitable combination of tests that will aid physicians in determining the particular amount of weight loss that should serve as a potential warning factor concerning the disease. It should be noted that the researchers also did not state what level of weight loss qualifies as an “unexplained amount” when dealing with this particular investigation.

Out of the 25 cases that were analyzed, 24 of those records were retrieved from British resources, while one case was sourced from the United States.