Sunday, March 11, 2018

Better be fat, if you're a man with cancer

"Obesity associated with longer survival for men with metastatic melanoma"

"Obese patients with metastatic melanoma (note: the most dangerous type of skin cancer) who are treated with targeted or immune therapies live significantly longer than those with a normal body mass index... This effect, referred to as the 'Obesity Paradox', principally manifested itself in men... The researchers found no significant differences in survival between women with normal, overweight or obese BMI... Women with metastatic melanoma have long been known to have better outcomes compared to men. In this study obesity overcame that survival disadvantage for men, leading researchers to now look at the possible impact of sex hormones in this effect... Recent studies have shown a similar survival benefit for obese patients with colorectal or kidney cancer."

The researcher, Dr. Jennifer McQuade at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, consistently rated the best cancer hospital in the US, said, “The public health message is not that obesity is good. Obesity is a proven risk factor for many diseases,... Even within our metastatic melanoma population, we would not suggest that patients intentionally gain weight. We need to figure out what is driving this paradox and learn how to use this information to benefit all of our patients.”

Nevertheless, the temptation for a male cancer patient in this situation to gain weight is so strong that the politically correct public health message could be ignored. Unless the cause of this "Obesity Paradox" is soon identified, it may be wise to advise these patients to try temporarily accumulating body fat in order to improve survival. Obesity is no doubt an evil. But what evil is more bad than cancer? The researcher in this study is reluctant to advocate weight gain even in this very specific case. That is understandable as they are neither interested nor specialized in making an exception to the overall healthy advice.