A new study published online in the journal CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, uncovers that if you were overweight or obese in adolescence, you may have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer in adulthood.
Furthermore, the study found that obesity in adolescence was also associated with an elevated risk of developing rectal cancer. Keep reading for the full scoop…
Study reveals a link between adolescent overweight and obesity and increased risk of colorectal cancer in adulthood
To reach these new findings, Zohar Levi, from the Rabin Medical Center and the Tel Aviv University in Israel, and his team of colleagues looked at data on 1,087,358 Jewish males and 707,212 Jewish females who underwent several health examinations, including measures of their body mass index (BMI), at age 16 to 19 years between 1967 and 2002. Levi and his team followed these individuals until 2012.
Over an average follow-up period of 23 years, 2,967 new cases of colorectal cancer
arose – 1403 colon and 574 rectal. Of these patients, 1977 were male and 990 were female. Levi and team associated overweight
with a 53% and 54% higher risk of colorectal cancer among men and women respectively. What’s more, they associated obesity with a 71% increased risk of rectal cancer in men and more than a twofold increased risk in women.
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These findings come at a time of increasing concern about the link between adolescent overweight and obesity and health problems later in life
According to Levi, these findings are highly significant because there’s much concern among doctors about adolescent overweight and obesity and health problems such as cancer later in life.
“This is a huge cohort with a minimum follow up of 10 years, and all individuals had measured BMI, not just reported or recalled,” he said. “This is the largest study ever, including both men and women, and it had the power to prove the importance of BMI at age 17 on events later in life.”
The primary limitation of the study was that the subjects were still young. It also lacked information on diet, exercise and smoking, which may affect colorectal cancer risk estimates.