Obesity-Linked Cancers Affected by Dietary Energy Density in Women

HealthDay News — Higher dietary energy density (DED; the ratio of energy intake to food weight) is associated with increased risk of obesity-related cancers among normal-weight women, according to a study published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues examined the correlation between baseline DED and incident obesity-related cancers among 92,295 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. A food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess DED as the exposure variable (kilocalories per gram for the total diet) from self-reported dietary intake at baseline.

The researchers found that for DED quintiles 5 vs 1, DED correlated with higher BMI (28.9±6.0 vs 26.3±4.9 kg/m²) and waist circumference (89.3±14.2 vs 82.4±12.4 cm). There was a 10% increased risk of any obesity-related cancer with DED (subhazard ratio Q5 versus Q1: 1.1). The increased risk was seen among women who were normal weight at enrollment.

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“Higher DED may be a contributing factor for obesity-related cancers, especially among normal-weight postmenopausal women and, as such, could serve as a modifiable behavior for dietary interventions to reduce obesity-associated cancer risk,” the authors write.


Thomson CA, Crane TE, Garcia DO, et al. Association between dietary energy density and obesity-associated cancer: results from the Women’s Health Initiative [published online August 2017]. J Acad Nutr Diet. doi:10.1016/jand.2017.06.010