The relationship between obesity and cancer screening is more complicated than previously thought, according to a recent study led by the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Christiana Care Health System.
In an article published in the Journal of Obesity by lead author Heather Bittner Fagan, M.D., FAAFP, MPH, director of Health Services Research, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Christiana Care Health System, the study found this relationship depends on the type of cancer screening test used.
The study found obesity is associated with higher rates of prostate cancer screening among all races as well as lower rates of cervical cancer screening predominantly in white women.
The data on breast and colon cancer screening were contradictory, suggesting the possibility of other determinants such as race, gender, ethnicity and access to care. Original analysis was also conducted examining the role of race, gender and ethnicity in moderating the relationship between obesity and colorectal cancer screening (CRC) and showed that weight status does not contribute to disparities in CRC screening in race/ethnicity and gender subgroups.
“Numerous studies have suggested that obesity constitutes an obstacle to cancer screening, but a deeper examination also considering the role of race/ethnicity and gender in the equation has not been done before,” said Dr. Bittner Fagan, who is also associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “A greater understanding of the relationship between cancer screening and obesity, race/ethnicity and gender can also help explain the association between obesity and increased cancer mortality.”