(HealthDay News) — Optimal scaling of weight to height (W/Hx) may vary according to the cancer site, and differs from body mass index, according to a study published online Nov. 7 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Geoffrey C. Kabat, Ph.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues conducted a study using data from the Canadian National Breast Cancer Screening Study from 1980 to 2000 involving 89,835 women to evaluate how scaling W/Hx influences the association with risk of 19 different types of cancer.

The researchers identified significant positive associations for W/Hx with postmenopausal breast cancer, endometrial cancer, kidney cancer, and lung cancer in never smokers, with x ranging from 0.8 (endometrial cancer) to 1.7 (postmenopausal breast cancer). In ever smokers, W/Hx correlated inversely with lung cancer, and the association was significant for all values of x.

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“Further studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings in other, more diverse populations,” the authors write. “Potential implications of our findings are that epidemiologists should consider using different weight-for-height scaling to examine the association of body size with risk of disease in different populations.”

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