Mendelian randomization (MR) has been used to estimate the causal effect of body mass index (BMI) on particular traits thought to be affected by BMI. However, BMI may also be a modifiable, causal risk factor for outcomes where there is no prior reason to suggest that a causal effect exists. We perform a MR phenome-wide association study (MR-pheWAS) to search for the causal effects of BMI in UK Biobank (n=334 968), using the PHESANT open-source phenome scan tool. Of the 20 461 tests performed, our MR-pheWAS identified 519 associations below a stringent P value threshold corresponding to a 5% estimated false discovery rate, including many previously identified causal effects. We also identified several novel effects, including protective effects of higher BMI on a set of psychosocial traits, identified initially in our preliminary MR-pheWAS and replicated in an independent subset of UK Biobank. Such associations need replicating in an independent sample.
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