Body weight and cancer screening among women

K. R. Fontaine, M. Heo, D. B. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obesity increases cancer risk, yet small-scale surveys indicate that obese women delay or avoid cancer screening even more so than do nonobese women. We sought to estimate the association between body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2) and delayed cancer screening among adult women in a population-based survey. Subjects were women classified by BMI as underweight (2 years) since most recent screening for Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, mammography, and clinical breast examination (CBE). Adjusting for age, race, smoking, and health insurance, we observed J-shaped associations between BMI and screening. Compared with desirable weight women, underweight women (odds ratios [OR] = 1.21, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.09-1.34), overweight women (OR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.07-1.18), and obese women (OR range 1.22-1.69) were significantly more likely to delay Pap smear testing for >2 years. Underweight (OR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.13-1.54), obesity class I (OR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.02-1.23), and obesity class III women (OR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.10-1.54) were more likely to delay mammography, and overweight (OR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.01-1.19), obesity class I (OR = 1.18, 95% CI 1.08-1.30), and obesity class III women (OR = 1.47, 95% CI 1.23-1.75) were more likely to delay CBE. White women were more likely to delay CBE as a function of BMI than were non-white women. Weight may be an important correlate of cancer screening behavior, particularly for white women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-470
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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