Organ size increases with obesity and correlates with cancer risk.

Haley Grant, Yifan Zhang, Lu Li, Yan Wang, Satomi Kawamoto, Sophie Pénisson, Daniel F. Fouladi, Shahab Shayesteh, Alejandra Blanco, Saeed Ghandili, Eva Zinreich, Jefferson S. Graves, Seyoun Park, Scott Kern, Jody Hooper, Alan L. Yuille, Elliot K. Fishman, Linda Chu, Cristian Tomasetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obesity increases significantly cancer risk in various organs. Although this has been recognized for decades, the mechanism through which this happens has never been explained. Here, we show that the volumes of kidneys, pancreas, and liver are strongly correlated (median correlation = 0.625; P-value<10-47) with the body mass index (BMI) of an individual. We also find a significant relationship between the increase in organ volume and the increase in cancer risk (P-value<10-12). These results provide a mechanism explaining why obese individuals have higher cancer risk in several organs: the larger the organ volume the more cells at risk of becoming cancerous. These findings are important for a better understanding of the effects obesity has on cancer risk and, more generally, for the development of better preventive strategies to limit the mortality caused by obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 26 2020


  • Biomarkers
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Cancer
  • Cancer Risk
  • Cell Number
  • Obesity
  • Organ Volume
  • Overweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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