“Almost one-quarter of nondiabetics in the United States are estimated to have metabolic syndrome,” said Britton Trabert, PhD, an investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. “There are a number of definitions of metabolic syndrome, but it is diagnosed when patients have several of the following conditions at the same time: Being overweight/obese, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, impaired fasting glucose, and low HDL [high-density lipoprotein] cholesterol.
“We found that a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome was associated with higher risk of endometrial cancer, and that metabolic syndrome appeared to increase risk regardless of whether the woman was considered obese,” continued Trabert.
“Although our study was not designed to evaluate the potential impact of preventing metabolic syndrome on endometrial cancer incidence, weight loss and exercise are the most effective steps a woman can take to prevent developing metabolic syndrome,” Trabert added.
Obesity is a strong risk factor for endometrial cancer. According to Trabert, prior studies have suggested that metabolic syndrome is also associated with increased endometrial cancer risk but it was unclear whether the association was driven by obesity alone or if it was also driven by other metabolic syndrome components.
To investigate this, Trabert and colleagues performed a case-control study using data from the SEER-Medicare linked database. They analyzed data from 16,323 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer between 1993 and 2007 and 100,751 women without endometrial cancer.
A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, as defined by U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria and International Diabetes Foundation criteria, was associated with an increased endometrial cancer risk of 39 percent and 103 percent, respectively. After taking into account if a woman was overweight/obese, the associations with increased risk of endometrial cancer were 21 percent and 17 percent for the two metabolic syndrome definitions, respectively.
The researchers also observed that each distinct metabolic syndrome condition that they could evaluate within the database—excessive weight, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and impaired fasting glucose—was associated with increased risk for endometrial cancer individually.
The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute Intramural Research Program. Trabert declares no conflicts of interest.