Findings from a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, USA, and published in the journal Radiology, suggest that belly fat affects the odds of women surviving kidney cancer. However, belly fat does not seem to affect the survival of men with kidney cancer.
The researchers analysed CT images from 145 men and 77 women with kidney cancer. They discovered that around half of the female kidney cancer patients with a substantial amount of abdominal fat at the time of diagnosis died within three and a half years, while more than half of the women with little belly fat were still alive 10 years later. For men, the amount of abdominal fat appeared to make no difference to how long they survived.
The findings suggest that kidney cancer may develop and progress differently in women than men.
Findings from the study suggest that how long a patient survives after diagnosis is linked to the distribution of body fat, and not to the total amount of fat, at least for women. Subcutaneous fat, which lies just beneath the skin, is mostly harmless. However, visceral fat, which lies within the abdomen and around internal organs, has been associated with diabetes, heart disease and many kinds of cancer.
Visceral fat can be analysed using cross-sectional CT scans. Subcutaneous and visceral fat are located in different areas of the body on a CT scan, making it possible to calculate the proportion of each. It is the proportion of visceral fat in women, which often increases after menopause, that is linked to survival.
The following article also reports on the results of this study, and gives some diet tips for reducing visceral fat: