Obese men treated for metastatic melanoma may survive longer than their normal-weight peers.
Researchers did a retrospective analysis of 1,918 people, 1,155 of them men, under treatment for metastatic melanoma. The study is in Lancet Oncology.
Compared with men of normal weight, obese men in treatment had nearly double the progression-free survival time and nearly double the overall survival time. The more overweight the man was, the greater the effect. But there was no association of obesity with survival in women.
The survival benefits were apparent in men undergoing immunotherapy that helps the immune system fight cancer and in those getting targeted therapy that aims to prevent reproduction of cancer cells without attacking healthy cells. But obesity provided no benefits in those taking chemotherapy that attacks healthy and cancer cells alike.
The mechanism is unknown, but the lead author, Dr. Jennifer L. McQuade, an oncologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said that obesity causes chronic inflammation that might change the response to therapy.
“The magnitude of the effect and the dose-response relationship point to there being a biological underpinning to this,” she said. “But we need to emphasize that obesity is still a risk factor for many diseases, including 13 different types of cancer. The most important thing is still preventing obesity.”
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