Exploring how obesity influences cancer survival

Theme Translational data science

Workstream Genetic evidence to prioritise intervention

Status: This project is ongoing

Evidence from different studies suggests that obesity or body mass index (BMI) might play a role in how certain types of cancer develop. This means that reducing obesity levels in society might reduce how often certain types of cancer occur.

What we don’t yet know, is whether it would be useful to help people already diagnosed with cancer manage their weight. This is because we don’t yet fully understand if addressing a patient’s weight after they are diagnosed with cancer could have the potential to slow down the rate at which their disease progresses.

Here at the Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, we’ve already looked at the impact of increasing physical activity in men diagnosed with prostate cancer. We will now use genetic data from biobanks and some large-scale studies on cancer survival to explore whether obesity plays a role in cancer progression.

Biobanks are large databases containing in-depth genetic and health information from millions of participants. Researchers use these databases to conduct research into common diseases such as cancer, for example.

Project aims

During this project we will:

  • investigate the relationship between genetics, cancer incidence (how often a particular cancer develops) and cancer survival
  • explore the influence of obesity on cancer development and survival

This research is part of a PhD project being carried out by Aaron Mitchell.