A new study indicates that overweight, as well as obese teenagers have a twofold chance of developing bowel cancer during middle age.
The study was conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts and published in the journal Gut.
Bowel cancer or colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S. for both men and women. 93,000 cases of colorectal cancer in the case of men and 40,000 diagnoses of the same type in women are expected this year alone, based on statistics.
The issue at hand undertaken by the joint research team from Sweden and the U.S. was researched in connection with 239,658 men born between 1952 and 1956 and joined the conscription health assessment asked by the Swedish military between 1969 and 1976.
According to the records, men’s height and weight were taken into consideration. Other factors, such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were also taken into account. ESR is a measurement of inflammation in the body, determined by the pace at which red blood cells are decreasing.
Obesity is commonly defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, while people with a BMI of 25 or more are considered overweight.
Past studies have shown that obesity and ESR in adults are linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer. Yet, no comprehensive studies were conducted on how the presence of these medical conditions impact later-life risk of bowel cancer diagnosis.
The U.S-Sweden study tracked the approximately 240,000 men from the Swedish military records until 2010 based on data retrieved from the national cancer registry. The incidence of bowel cancer in the group and the particular combination of factors underpinned the research.
The results showed that at the time of the conscription health-assessment, 81 percent of the young men presented a normal weight, while 1.5 percent fell into the overweight group. 1 percent were found to be obese and 5 percent moderately overweight.
Combining these findings with the cancer registry data, it resulted that 885 of these men were diagnosed with colorectal cancer later in life. Overall, the chances to be diagnosed with bowel cancer of those who were in the 1.5 percent and 1 percent categories increased 2.08 times and 2.38 times compared to the moderately overweight and normal weight categories.
Furthermore, the men with a high ESR at a later stage in life, but no diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease at the moment of conscription presented a 63 percent increased risk of developing colorectal cancer than those with a low ESR.
BMI analysis and ESR rates are independent of each other in their contribution to the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
While the study is clear on how teenage obesity and overweight can impact the risk of developing bowel cancer during later stages in life for men, it says nothing about women. As such, the results should not be generalized, according to the researchers.
Other reports conducted on this segment of the population, for instance by the Cancer Research indicated that women who are obese are 40 percent more likely to develop some forms of cancer during their lifetime than those of a healthy weight.
Nonetheless, further research is needed.
Image Source: National Post