SEP 17, 2015 4:58 PM PDT

Link Found Between Excess Weight and Brain Tumor Risk

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Is there a connection between being overweight and developing a certain kind of brain tumor? Is there yet another reason to watch one’s diet and get one’s exercise? Apparently, a group of scientists has found a link between being overweight or obese and an increased risk of a specific type of brain tumor, according to a new meta-analysis published online in Neurology and reported by Bevin Fletcher, associate editor of Bioscience Technology
Overweight and obese people are more likely to develop meningiomas. 
The researchers -- led by Gundula Behrens, Ph.D., University of Regensburg in Germany – discovered that obese people were 54 percent more likely to develop a meningioma, while overweight people were 21 percent more likely to develop one, as compared with people of a normal body weight. The analysis analyzed 12 studies on body mass index (BMI), and six on physical activity, involving 3,057 glioma cases and 2,982 meningioma cases. The two are the most prevalent primary brain tumors in adults, each occurring at a rate of about five to eight cases per 100,000 people per year. Meningioma offers a better prognosis than glioma, with a five-year survival rate of 63 percent. The study did not find any relationship between weight and glioma. 
 
Researchers defined individuals to be obese if they had a BMI of 30 or higher. They defined overweight as having a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
 
According to Behrens, “This is an important finding since there are few known risk factors for meningioma and the ones we do know about are not things a person can change. Given the high prevalence of obesity and the unfavorable prognosis for this type of tumor, these findings may be relevant for strategies aimed at reducing the risk of meningioma.”
 
People with the highest level of physical activity were 27 percent less likely to have a meningioma than those with the lowest amount of activity. Behrens explained that multiple biological processes could be at play, linking excess weight and increased risk of meningioma. For instance, excess production of estrogen promotes the development of these tumors. Additionally, being overweight is linked to higher levels of insulin, which could promote meningioma growth.
 
“With physical activity, it’s possible that meningiomas that had not been diagnosed yet caused people to reduce their physical activity at the time it was measured,” Behrens said, noting that although the study shows an association between weight and this type of tumor, tumors are rare. The meta-analysis was supported by the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Regensburg, Germany.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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