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Self-reported Clothing Size as a Proxy Measure for Body Size

Hughes, Laura A. E.a; Schouten, Leo J.a; Goldbohm, R Alexandrab; van den Brandt, Piet A.a; Weijenberg, Matty P.a

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181a66eb5
Body Mass Index: Brief Report

Background: Few studies have considered the potential utility of clothing size as a predictor of diseases associated with body weight.

Methods: We used data on weight-stable men and women from a subcohort of the Netherlands Cohort Study to assess the correlation of clothing size with other anthropometric variables. Cox regression using the case-cohort approach was performed to establish whether clothing size can predict cancer risk after 13.3 years of follow-up, and if additionally considering body mass index (BMI) in the model improves the prediction.

Results: Trouser and skirt size correlated well with circumference measurements. Skirt size predicted endometrial cancer risk, and this effect was slightly attenuated when BMI was added to the model. Trouser size predicted risk of renal cell carcinoma, regardless of whether BMI was in the model.

Conclusions: Clothing size appears to predict cancer risk independently of BMI, suggesting that clothing size is a useful measure to consider in epidemiologic studies when waist circumference is not available.


From the aDepartment of Epidemiology, School for Oncology and Developmental Biology (GROW), Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands; and bDepartment of Prevention and Health, TNO Quality of Life, Zeist, The Netherlands.

Submitted 10 July 2008; accepted 30 October 2008.

Supported by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF NL) grant 2007/54.

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Correspondence: Laura Hughes, Maastricht University, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Epidemiology, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.