People who are obese are 50% more likely to develop a common type of brain tumour known as a meningioma. This statistic was revealed in a new study carried out by scientists at the German University of Regensburg, and published in a recent edition of the journal Neurology.
The study, which looked at data from over 6,000 people with brain tumours, uncovered a striking connection between body mass index and an increased risk of developing meningioma. From their research the scientists found that patients who were classed as overweight were 21% more likely to develop this kind of tumour than people who fell in the normal weight spectrum. However for people who were classed as obese, the risk increased to 54%. Nevertheless, the researchers were quick to point out that obesity doesn’t necessarily cause tumours of this type.
While there are currently 120 known types of brain tumours, the scientists concentrated their study on the two most common types of brain tumours, gliomas and meningiomas. Meningiomas occur in tissues called meninges, which cover the brain and spinal cord. Despite uncovering this correlation, the scientists are still not clear on why obese people do have a higher rate of meningiomas, although it is believed to be connected with increased levels of estrogen, insulin and other types of protein which control the immune system. Furthermore, the researchers believe that the correlation between obesity and certain cancers, such as meningiomas may have something to do with the type of tissue and the site of the cancer.
Exercise plays a large part in reducing the risk of meningioma.
While we all know the importance of regular exercise for keeping fit and healthy, this study found that exercise also had the effect of reducing the risk of developing meningioma. Patients who took part in the greatest amount of physical activity were found to be 27% less likely to develop a tumour of this type compared to the least active. This was true regardless of whether the patient was classed as obese, overweight or of normal weight.
The findings from this study are of particular importance as currently we know very little about the risk factors for meningioma, except that advanced age and being female seem to be the trigger. Fortunately, the outlook for patients with meningiomas is good, with a 65% survival rate.
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