Postmenopausal Women with Poor Metabolic Health at Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Postmenopausal women should monitor their metabolical health.

According to a new study, postmenopausal women who were considered “normal weight,” but still were metabolically unhealthy had higher odds of developing colorectal cancer.

Metabolic health — a concept often measured through blood pressure, levels of triglycerides, glucose, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and waist circumference – has been commonly perceived to be associated with obesity.

However, researchers highlighted that 30% of normal-weight adults are considered metabolically unhealthy, because they could still possess three of the associated characteristics.

To compare the risk of colorectal cancer in normal-weight postmenopausal women who were either metabolically healthy or unhealthy, Xiaoyun Liang, PhD and team conducted a study using data from 5,068 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative.

All women included had body mass index (BMI) from 18.5kg/m2 to 25kg/m2, and approximately 33.7% were metabolically unhealthy. During an average follow up period of 14.4 years, the team saw that 64 of the 3,358 women who were considered metabolically healthy and 50 of the 1,710 metabolically unhealthy women had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Furthermore, after adjusting for factors affecting colorectal cancer risk, the researchers discovered that the metabolically unhealthy women had a 49% higher risk for colorectal cancer.

Based on their findings, researchers stressed the importance for women to be aware of their metabolic health status in order to help maintain their overall health, potentially using preventative interventions sooner than later.

Despite their calculations, the researchers acknowledged their study had two main limitations:

· BMI and components of metabolic health were measured only at the time of enrollment in the Women’s Health Initiative preventing them from documenting any changes

· The study population was generalized only to menopausal women and not men or younger women

The study, “Metabolic Phenotype and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Normal-Weight Postmenopausal Women,” was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.