(HealthDay News) — For patients with pancreatic cancer, higher prediagnostic body mass index (BMI) is associated with decreased survival, according to a study published online Oct. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Chen Yuan, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from 902 patients from two large prospective cohorts to examine pancreatic cancer survival by prediagnostic BMI.

The researchers found that the risk of death was significantly increased for patients with BMI ≥35 kg/m² versus those with BMI of less than 25 kg/m² (hazard ratio, 1.53), which was unchanged after adjustment for stage. With longer lag times between reported BMI and cancer diagnosis, the correlation of BMI with survival was stronger.

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Among patients with BMI collected 18 to 20 years before diagnosis, hazard ratio for death was 2.31 comparing obese with healthy-weight patients. The correlation was stronger among never-smokers (hazard ratio, 1.61; P trend = 0.002) than among never-smokers (hazard ratio, 1.36; P trend = 0.63). There was a correlation between higher prediagnostic BMI with more advanced stage at diagnosis — 72.5$ and 59.4%, respectively, of obese and healthy-weigh patients presented with metastatic disease.

“These data emphasize the link between chronic alterations in systemic metabolism and pancreatic cancer survival and suggest obesity-related metabolic pathways for possible therapeutic intervention in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma,” the authors write.