Can your pants or skirt size predict your cancer risk?

Tue Oct 6, 2009 6:13pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The size of your trousers or skirt might help gauge your risk of developing certain cancers regardless of your weight, according to Dutch researchers.

A large waist and wide hips signal accumulation of so-called "intra-abdominal fat" -- the particularly harmful deep "hidden" fat that surrounds the abdominal organs and is linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. "It has been hypothesized that clothing size is related to physique, and it was recently reported that clothing size appears to be a strong surrogate for obesity and intra-abdominal fat," Laura Hughes, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, wrote in the journal Epidemiology.

Using information on nearly 2,500 men and women enrolled in a study of diet and cancer, researchers from Maastricht University validated ties between a person's clothing size and waist and hip size and their body mass index - a standard measure used to tell how fat or thin a person is.

They found trouser and skirt size correlated well with waist and hip circumference measurements in men and women.

Hughes and her colleagues next looked at whether clothing size could predict cancer risk.

With an average follow up period of roughly 13 years, they found that in women, a bigger skirt size predicted greater risk of endometrial cancer, while in men, a bigger trouser size predicted a greater risk of kidney cancer.

These findings suggest that "clothing size reflects a fat distribution different from that indicated by weight and height," Hughes told Reuters Health.

"Our results suggest that clothing size is a useful measure to predict cancer risk in studies where waist circumference is not available," she said.

"Furthermore, it may be useful for future epidemiologic studies to collect clothing sizes in addition to weight and height, especially in populations where obtaining waist circumference is culturally problematic or challenging because of extreme obesity," she added.

(Reporting by Michelle Rizzo of Reuters Health, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

<p>Models appear at the end of Portuguese designer Fatima Lopes' Spring/Summer 2009 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection show in Paris September 27, 2008. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (FRANCE)</p>