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Heavier Men More Likely to Survive Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

Heavier Men More Likely to Survive Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

(epharmanews)- It is well known that being overweight may not be good for one’s health generally, but it appears that overweight men are more likely to survive a particular form of immune system cancer, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved 2500 patients of an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of cell that forms part of the immune system. Typically, lymphoma is present as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells. These malignant cells often originate in lymph nodes, presenting as an enlargement of the node (a tumor). It can also affect other organs in which case it is referred to as extranodal lymphoma. Extranodal sites include the skin, brain, bowels and bone.

Non-Hodgkin lymphomas include a large group of cancers that affect the lymphatic system, a part of the immune system, and DLBCL is the most common form.

Earlier studies have linked obesity to a greater risk of developing DLBCL. In certain other cancers - like breast and colon cancers - obese patients might also have a worse prognosis than those who are thinner when they are diagnosed.

"We expected something similar when we started this project," said Kenneth Carson of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the lead researcher.

The findings were actually very surprising. Men who were obese at diagnosis had only about two-thirds the risk of dying during the study period that normal-weight men had, after considering other factors like age and overall health.

Men who were not obese, but overweight, also had a better prognosis than their normal-weight counterparts, a 27 percent lower death risk during the study period.

The reason why heavier men are more likely to survive DLBCL remains a mystery. Researchers assert that these findings do not mean that men should maintain an obese build, nor should they try to gain more weight. Rather these findings should lead to a better understanding of DLBCL and cancer in general, and to the discovery of effective treatments regardless of gender or weight.

"In my mind, there are two main factors that might explain why overweight and obese patients have improved survival: differences in disease biology, or differences in patient responses to chemotherapy." Carson said.

It is possible that bigger patients are able to tolerate more intense chemotherapy before having severe side effects. But, Carson's team added, other research suggests that obese chemotherapy patients may tend to get lower doses relative to their body size.

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Prepared by: Marcell Shehwaro

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