A study has found that women with fats around their waistline and a high body mass index (BMI) have an increase risk of pancreatic cancer.

In the study, 2,170 people with pancreatic cancer and 2,209 people without the disease from the National Cancer Institute Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Consortium (PanScan) were analyzed, to identify genes associated with the disease as well as lifestyle, environmental, and genetic risk factors.

The researchers found that there was a positive link between increasing BMI and increasing risk for pancreatic cancer. People in the top fourth based on their BMI were at 33 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those in the bottom fourth.

According to the American Cancer Society, the average person has about a 1.4 percent chance of developing pancreatic cancer during their lifetime.

Dr. Alan A. Arslan of the New York University School of Medicine in New York City and colleagues in their study found that women who were overweight were at 31 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to normal weight women, while the risk for obese women was 61 percent greater.

Having a large waist in relation to one's hips also upped risk, most strongly for women. The women with the biggest waist-to-hip ratio were at 87 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

These findings, along with those from previous studies, strongly support the role of obesity in pancreatic cancer development, Arslan and his colleagues conclude.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, May 10, 2010.