BACKGROUND: Observational studies have associated adiposity with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, such studies do not establish a causal relationship. To minimise bias from confounding we performed a Mendelian randomisation (MR) analysis to examine the relationship between adiposity and CRC.
METHODS: We used SNPs associated with adult body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), childhood obesity and birth weight as instrumental variables in a MR analysis of 9254 CRC cases and 18 386 controls.
RESULTS: In the MR analysis, the odds ratios (ORs) of CRC risk per unit increase in BMI, WHR and childhood obesity were 1.23 (95% CI: 1.02-1.49, P=0.033), 1.59 (95% CI: 1.08-2.34, P=0.019) and 1.07 (95% CI: 1.03-1.13, P=0.018), respectively. There was no evidence for association between birth weight and CRC (OR=1.22, 95% CI: 0.89-1.67, P=0.22). Combining these data with a concurrent MR-based analysis for BMI and WHR with CRC risk (totalling to 18 190 cases, 27 617 controls) provided increased support, ORs for BMI and WHR were 1.26 (95% CI: 1.10-1.44, P=7.7 × 10(-4)) and 1.40 (95% CI: 1.14-1.72, P=1.2 × 10(-3)), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: These data provide further evidence for a strong causal relationship between adiposity and the risk of developing CRC highlighting the urgent need for prevention and treatment of adiposity.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 23 June 2016; doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.188 www.bjcancer.com.