HealthDay News – Even normal-weight women may be at greater risk for colorectal cancer if they have certain traits, such as elevated triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and elevated fasting glucose, according to a study published online Feb. 1 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study involved normal-weight postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79. The research team’s analysis involved 5,068 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, a 15-year study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

One-third of the women in the study were deemed metabolically unhealthy, meaning they had two or more risk factors of metabolic syndrome (excluding waist measurement). 

The researchers found that normal-weight women who were metabolically unhealthy had an increased risk of colorectal cancer (hazard ratio, 1.49; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.02 to 2.18), compared with metabolically-healthy women.

“A metabolically unhealthy phenotype was associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer among normal-weight women,” the authors write. “Normal-weight women should still be evaluated for metabolic health and appropriate steps taken to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer.”

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Liang X, Margolis KL, Hendryx M, et al. Metabolic Phenotype and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Normal-Weight Postmenopausal Women [published online February 1, 2017].  Canc Epid Biomarkers. doi: 0.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0761