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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Overweight people with cancer have poorer rate of survival

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

OBESE cancer patients are more inclined to be diagnosed later and have poorer survival rates, according to a new study.

The findings emerged from an examination of 1,041 patients who were treated for cancer at Limerick Regional Hospital between 2001 and 2010.

They tended to have larger tumours and have a smoking history, the study carried out by doctors in the hospital's oncology unit and the University of Limerick medical school found.

They had poorer survival rates, although this was only of statistical significance for non-cancer deaths among these patients, the study presented to the scientific meeting of the Royal College of Physicians revealed.

The reseachers pointed out that obesity at the time of diagnosis of early stage breast cancer has been associated with poor outcome and this could be linked to problems such as hormonal influences and other illnesses which the patient is suffering from which can interfere with therapy.

A separate study presented to the conference showed that nurses and GPs have the same preconceptions about overweight people as the general public.

They can mistake people who are overweight as being a healthy weight, said the findings from Dr Marian Faughan, chief specialist in nutrition at Safefood.

"They generally report low confidence in tackling the issue, particularly for fear of upsetting the patient and request more training."


She added: "Their own practice in measuring body weight is influenced by factors such as their own body-weight status, their age and years of practice."

The conference was also told by Dr Anne Dee, public health specialist in Limerick, that the direct and indirect cost of obesity was now around €1bn.

"Urgent action is required to address this growing problem. The cost of associated chronic disease is substantial and will cause unsustainable health service cost escalation and productivity losses in the wider economy."

Irish Independent

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