Intentional weight loss and risk of lymphohematopoietic cancers

Anneclaire J. De Roos, Cornelia M. Ulrich, Roberta M. Ray, Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Carol A. Rosenberg, Bette J. Caan, Cynthia A. Thomson, Anne McTiernan, Andrea Z. LaCroix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives We hypothesized that intentional weight loss may be associated with development of lymphohematopoietic cancers, based on observations of immune suppression following weight loss in short-term studies. Methods At the baseline of the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study (1994-1998), participants reported information about intentional weight loss episodes in the past 20 years. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) among 81,219 women for associations between past intentional weight loss and risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), leukemia, and multiple myeloma during an average 9.9 years of follow-up. Results The risk of NHL was associated with having lost a large maximum amount of weight (>50 pounds, HR = 1.68, 95% CI 1.13-2.50). NHL risk also varied by the frequency of intentional weight loss; women had increased risk if they lost 50 pounds or more >3 times (HR = 1.97, 95% CI 0.934.16; p trend by frequency = 0.09) or 20-49 pounds >3 times (HR = 1.55, 95% CI 1.00-2.40; p trend = 0.05), but there was no risk associated with smaller amounts of weight loss (10-19 pounds >3 times, HR = 0.78, 95% CI 0.461.33). These associations persisted with adjustment for body mass index at different ages. We observed non-significant associations of similar magnitude for multiple myeloma, but past intentional weight loss episodes were not associated with leukemia. Conclusion Further assessment of intentional weight loss as a possible risk factor for lymphomas may provide insight into the etiology of these cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Body mass index
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Myeloma
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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