Obesity in teen years increases bowel cancer risk later in life

The observational study considered health records from 239,658 Swedish men during the course of 35 years.

By Stephen Feller

BOSTON, May 26 (UPI) -- Obesity in adolescence has been shown to double the chances of developing colorectal cancer later in life as a result of a higher body mass index, or BMI, and inflammation, according to a study.

Researchers reviewed medical records for 239,658 Swedish men who were given physical examinations between 1969 and 1976 when enlisting in the military, finding 885 instances of either rectal or colon cancer in the 35 years following patient's initial exams.


Men in the study considered to have a high BMI had at least double the possibility of developing one of the two types of colorectal cancer. Those with inflammation as measured by erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which measures the level of inflammation in the body, had a little more than 1.5 times the chance of developing one of the cancers.

"This finding is interesting because it gives an indication that bowel cancer risk might be affected by our lifestyle habits throughout the life course," Rachel Thompson, head of research interpretation at the World Cancer Research Fund told the BBC. "In some ways, research into the relationship between factors like obesity and cancer risk is still in its infancy."


Because the study is "observational," researchers caution in the study that more work must be done to find what the link between obesity or inflammation and colorectal cancers may be.

The study is published in Gut.

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