PHARMACY

Study finds high BMI may play role in development of pancreatic cancer

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK In reviewing the weight history of pancreatic cancer patients across their life spans, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have determined that a high body mass index in early adulthood may play a significant role in an individual developing the disease at an earlier age.

The study, published in the June 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that patients who are obese the year before diagnosis have a poorer outcome than those who are not.

While excess weight is a known risk factor associated with pancreatic cancer, before now, few studies have looked at patients’ body mass index throughout their lifetime rather than simply at adulthood and/or the year of disease diagnosis.

Participants’ BMIs were calculated at each age period and then classified by World Health Organization guidelines as either normal, overweight (greater than or equal to a score of 25, but less than 30) or obese (30 or greater). The researchers then compared the prevalence of overweight and obesity between both the patients and the controls. Among the cancer patients, they also compared the mean or median age of pancreatic cancer diagnosis and the overall survival time between those that were of normal weight, overweight and obese.

“This is the first study to explore at which ages excess body weight predisposes an individual to pancreatic cancer,” said Donghui Li, Ph.D., a professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and the study’s corresponding author. “With our epidemiological research, we aimed to demonstrate the relationship between BMI and risk of pancreatic cancer across a patient’s life span and determine if there was a time period that specifically predisposes an individual to the disease, as well as the link between BMI and cancer occurrence and overall survival of the disease.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in men and women in this country. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 42,470 persons will be diagnosed, and 35,240 likely will die from the disease in 2009. The median survival for patients with the disease is less than 10 months, and the five-year survival rate is less than 5%.

“With our study, we hoped to better understand the cause-and-effect relationship between this modifiable risk factor that contributes to the development of pancreatic cancer, in hopes that high-risk individuals can be identified and preventive measures discovered for this lethal disease,” said Li.

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PCMA launches ad campaign to push Senate on biosimilars

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON An organization of the country’s pharmacy benefit managers has launched a new ad campaign to nudge senators on biosimilars.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association announced Thursday the launch of the campaign, directed at members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, hoping they will include “real” biosimilars legislation as part of healthcare reform.

 

The ad features a photo of a toddler and the caption “Meet the first recipient of an affordable biologic for hemophilia. He’ll be 66 years old when he finally gets it.”

“If this week’s report is accurate that Washington and the drug company lobby have reached some kind of new health reform ‘agreement,’ we sincerely hope that biogenerics is not part of it,” PCMA president and CEO Mark Merritt said in a statement. “The drug lobby will truly have reason to celebrate if Washington either ignores biogenerics reform or, worse, establishes a new process that could actually forbid competition for years after patents expire.”

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Medical care for pre-diabetes costs nation $25 billion annually, new data shows

BY Anna Mcgrath

WASHINGTON One-in-4 American adults suffers from a silent condition known as pre-diabetes, a condition that costs the nation $25 billion a year in medical costs, according to new data.

Studies also show healthcare costs attributed with some 180,000 pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are estimated at $623 million a year.

In response to high diabetic healthcare costs, The American Diabetes Association recently engaged The Lewin Group to build upon a 2008 study that determined the estimated total direct and indirect costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States to be $174 billion. 

“It is absolutely critical that we understand the economic impact of diabetes on the nation so that we can develop health care policies that can effectively support the necessary behavior change and aggressive medical management needed to stem the diabetes epidemic,” said Dana Haza, senior director of NCDP, an initiative created by Novo Nordisk to drive systems change at the national and local level.

The studies, conducted by The Lewin Group, can be found in the current edition of the peer-reviewed journal Population Health Management.

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