June 2 (UPI) -- Measurements of visceral fat, rather than BMI, as a calculator for obesity may be a help doctors assess lung cancer risk, according to new research published by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
Though the association between measures of obesity and some solid tumor types such as breast, esophageal and colon cancer are clearer, the relationship between obesity and lung cancer is nuanced, researchers say.
A group of researchers led by Dr. Sai Yendamuri from Rosewell Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y., conducted an examination of patients with lung cancer before they underwent surgery.
They calculated the patients' excess body weight using visceral fax index measured by CT scans.
"While BMI is easy to measure, its use has been criticized due to its inability to discriminate between fat and lean body mass," Dr. Yendamuri said Wednesday in a press release.
"BMI also fails to account for body fat distribution. It is becoming increasingly recognized that 'visceral' or 'central obesity' is the primary driver behind the health outcomes linked to high body fat," Yendamuri said.
Instead of using BMI, researchers found that image-based measurements of central obesity can be correlated with tumor progression.
They used CT scans of patients undergoing lobectomies to find the relationship between central obesity and lung cancer.
Researchers focused on a Visceral Fat Index and found that it is associated with decreased recurrence-free and overall survival of patients.
"These findings clarify the truly negative relationship that exists between central obesity and lung cancer outcomes, and they present a viable alternative to the use of BMI in retrospective studies of obesity rooted in biology with clear relevance to cancer outcomes," study first author Dr. Joesph Barbi said in a press release.