Obese Adolescents Have Double the Risk of Getting Bowel Cancer in Later Life, According to Latest Study by Harvard
Adolescents who are obese have the double the risk of getting bowel cancer later in their adult lives, according to latest study conducted by Harvard University and Swedish Orebro University Hospital.
Scientists from Harvard and Orebro University have conducted a 35 year long study by following more than 240,000 Swedish men. The study was initiated when the group of men was in their teens (aged between 16 to 20) and their body mass index, the relationship between height and weight, were recorded to find out if it had any impact on developing bowel cancer later in their lives. The participants underwent checks for height and weight as well as a test called ESR, (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), which checks for inflammation in the body and identify predisposition towards specific kinds of diseases. Around 81 % of the participants were found to of normal weight, while 12 % were underweight and 5 % were slightly overweight. Only 1.5 % was seriously overweight and 1 % was outright obese.
After 35 years of follow-up, analysis revealed that 885 of the test subjects developed bowel cancer out of which 384 had rectal cancers. Those who were identified as obese in their childhood, with a BMI ranging between 27.5 to 30 (normal BMI – 18.5 to 25), were twice as prone to developing bowel cancer. Men categorized in the ‘seriously overweight’ had a 2.08-time risk of getting bowel cancer while men in the ‘obese’ category had a 2.38-time greater risk of developing bowel tumor.
Consistent inflammation also raised the probability of the participants’ of developing bowel cancer although the underlying causes are not clearly understood. The body responds to infections and wounds by inflammation and is part of the overall healing process. Participants who scored highly in the ESR test had around 65 % more chance of bowel cancer in comparison to those with lower scores. However not all men with high ESR scores were obese, which means that bowel cancer may not be directly correlated to high inflammation, according to experts.
According to the research paper, bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men worldwide, but surprisingly very little information is available about the key factors during the adolescence period, which may play a vital role in developing this condition. The researchers acknowledge that this paper is not conclusive, since the sample data included men only and that further studies are required to come to more decisive conclusions.