Relationship between anthropometric factors, radiation exposure, and colon cancer incidence in the Life Span Study cohort of atomic bomb survivors

Erin O. Semmens, Kenneth J. Kopecky, Eric Grant, Robert W. Mathes, Nobuo Nishi, Hiromi Sugiyama, Hiroko Moriwaki, Ritsu Sakata, Midori Soda, Fumiyoshi Kasagi, Michiko Yamada, Saeko Fujiwara, Masazumi Akahoshi, Scott Davis, Kazunori Kodama, Christopher I. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: We examined colon cancer risk in atomic bomb survivors to investigate whether excess body weight after the bombings alters sensitivity to radiation effects. Methods: Of the 56,064 Japanese atomic bomb survivors with follow-up through 2002 with self-reported anthropometric data obtained from periodic mail surveys, 1,142 were diagnosed with colon cancer. We evaluated the influence of body mass index (BMI) and height on radiation-associated colon cancer risk using Poisson regression. Results: We observed a similar linear dose-response relationship for the 56,064 subjects included in our analysis and the entire cohort of Japanese atomic bomb survivors [excess relative risk (ERR) per Gray (Gy) = 0.53, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.25-0.86]. Elevation in earliest reported BMI, BMI reported closest to colon cancer diagnosis, and time-varying BMI were associated with an elevated risk of colon cancer [relative risk (RR) per 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI = 1.14, 95 % CI 1.03-1.26; RR = 1.16, 95 % CI 1.05-1.27; and RR = 1.15, 95 % CI 1.04-1.27, respectively]. Height was not significantly related to colon cancer risk. Inclusion of anthropometric variables in models had little impact on radiation risk estimates, and there was no evidence that sensitivity to the effect of radiation on colon cancer risk depended on BMI. Conclusions: Radiation exposure and BMI are both risk factors for colon cancer. BMI at various times after exposure to the atomic bombings does not significantly influence the relationship between radiation dose and colon cancer risk, suggesting that BMI and radiation impact colon cancer risk independently of each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Atomic bomb survivors
  • Body mass index
  • Colon cancer
  • Radiation exposure


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