Effect of metabolic health and obesity phenotype on the risk of pancreatic cancer: A nationwide population-based cohort study

Hye Soo Chung, Ji Sung Lee, Eyun Song, Jung A. Kim, Eun Roh, Ji Hee Yu, Nam Hoon Kim, Hye Jin Yoo, Ji A Seo, Sin Gon Kim, Nan Hee Kim, Sei-Hyun Baik, Kyung Mook Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recently, a few studies have reported different results regarding the relationship between metabolic health and obesity phenotype and several cancers. We examined the effects of metabolic health and obesity phenotype on pancreatic cancer using a nationwide population-based cohort database. Methods: Using the Korean National Health Insurance Service–Health Screening Cohort, we enrolled 347,434 Korean adults who underwent a health examination between 2009 and 2010 and were followed until 2015. This population was divided into four groups based on metabolically healthy status and body mass index (BMI): metabolically healthy normal weight (MHNW), metabolically unhealthy normal weight (MUNW), metabolically healthy obese (MHO), and metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO). Results: Over a median follow-up of 6.1 (5.5–6.5) years, 886 individuals were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The adjusted HRs for incident pancreatic cancer were 1.52 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27–1.81] and 1.34 (95% CI, 1.12–1.61) for the MUNW and MUO phenotypes (compared with the MHNW phenotype) after adjusting for various confounding factors. However, compared with the MHNW phenotype, the MHO phenotype did not show an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer. Moreover, the HR for pancreatic cancer gradually increased with an increase in number of metabolically unhealthy components, even after adjusting for BMI (Ptrend < 0.001). Conclusions: Regardless of BMI, metabolically unhealthy phenotype demonstrated significantly increased risk of pancreatic cancer, whereas obese individuals with metabolically healthy phenotype did not. Impact: These findings suggest that metabolically unhealthy phenotype might represent a potential risk factor for pancreatic cancer occurrence independent of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by the Korea University Research Fund (K2020461, to K.M. Choi) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018R1D1A1B07049605, to H.S. Chung).

Publisher Copyright:
©2020 American Association for Cancer Research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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