Excess body weight, weight gain and obesity-related cancer risk in women in Norway: the Norwegian Women and Cancer study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Excess body weight and weight gain have been reported to independently increase the risk of several cancers. There are few published studies in nationally representative populations of women on specific, ‘obesity-related’ cancers in relation to prior weight change and relevant confounders. Methods: Based on self-reported anthropometry, we prospectively assessed body mass index (BMI), weight change over 6 years and subsequent obesity-related cancer risk in the Norwegian Women and Cancer study. We used Cox proportional hazard models to calculate hazard ratios and restricted cubic splines to model potential non-linear dose–response relationships. Results: Excess body weight increased the risk of overall obesity-related cancer, postmenopausal breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial and kidney cancer, with endometrial cancer showing a threefold elevated risk. High weight gain (≥ 10 kg) increased the risk of overall obesity-related cancer, postmenopausal breast, endometrial and pancreatic cancer. The association between high weight gain and pancreatic cancer was strong, with 91% increased risk. Conclusions: Maintaining stable weight in middle adulthood, irrespective of BMI category at baseline, and avoiding excess body weight are both important in the prevention of several obesity-related cancers in women. Our finding of increased risk of pancreatic cancer in women with moderate and high weight gain is novel.


  • Marisa da Silva
  • Elisabete Weiderpass
  • Idlir Licaj
  • Lauren Lissner
  • Charlotta Rylander
External organisations
  • UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
  • Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • University of Helsinki
  • Centre François Baclesse
  • University of Gothenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Family Medicine
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-656
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 28
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes