Obesity as a potential risk factor for adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas of the uterine cervix

James V. Lacey, Christine A. Swanson, Louise A. Brinton, Sean F. Altekruse, Willard A. Barnes, Patti E. Gravitt, Mitchell D. Greenberg, Olympia C. Hadjimichael, Larry McGowan, Rodrigue Mortel, Peter E. Schwartz, Robert J. Kurman, Allan Hildesheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Hormonal factors may play a more prominent role in cervical adenocarcinoma than squamous cell carcinoma. The authors evaluated whether obesity, which can influence hormone levels, was associated with adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. METHODS. This case-control study included 124 patients with adenocarcinoma, 139 matched patients with squamous cell carcinoma, and 307 matched community control participants. All participants completed interviews and provided cervicovaginal samples for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. Polytomous logistic regression-generated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for self-reported height and weight, body mass index (BMI; kg/m2), and measured waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) for both histologic types were adjusted and stratified for HPV and other confounders. RESULTS. Height, weight, BMI, and WHR were positively associated with adenocarcinoma. BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 (vs. BMI < 25 kg/m2; OR, 2.1 and 95% CI, 1.1-3.8) and WHR in the highest tertile (vs. the lowest tertile; OR, 1.8 and 95% CI, 0.97-3.3) were associated with adenocarcinoma. Neither height nor weight was found to be associated with squamous cell carcinoma, and associations for BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 (OR, 1.6) and WHR in the highest tertile (OR, 1.6) were weaker and were not statistically significant. Analyses using only HPV positive controls showed similar associations. The data were adjusted for and stratified by screening, but higher BMI and WHR were associated with higher disease stage at diagnosis, even among recently and frequently screened patients with adenocarcinoma. Thus, residual confounding by screening could not be excluded as an explanation for the associations. CONCLUSIONS. Obesity and body fat distribution were associated more strongly with adenocarcinoma than with squamous cell carcinoma. Although questions about screening remain, obesity may have a particular influence on the risk of glandular cervical carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-821
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2003


  • Body weight
  • Cervical adenocarcinoma
  • Cervical squamous cell carcinoma
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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