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Cancer risk is associated with the widely debated measure body mass index (BMI). Fat mass and fat-free mass measurements from bioelectrical impedance may further clarify this association. The UK Biobank is a rare resource in which bioelectrical impedance and BMI data was collected on ~ 500,000 individuals. Using this dataset, a comprehensive analysis using regression, principal component and genome-wide genetic association, provided multiple levels of evidence that increasing whole body fat (WBFM) and fat-free mass (WBFFM) are both associated with increased post-menopausal breast cancer risk, and colorectal cancer risk in men. WBFM was inversely associated with prostate cancer. We also identified rs615029[T] and rs1485995[G] as associated in independent analyses with both PMBC (p = 1.56E-17 and 1.78E-11) and WBFFM (p = 2.88E-08 and 8.24E-12), highlighting splice variants of the intriguing long non-coding RNA CUPID1 (LINC01488) as a potential link between PMBC risk and fat-free mass.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.