Overweight and obese teenagers have two times more chances of developing colorectal cancer later in life, according to new research.
The correlation between obesity and overweight and colorectal cancer diagnosis was researched by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the United States, colorectal cancer diagnosis for both men and women indicate that this is the third most common kind of cancer, with 93,000 cases expected to be diagnosed in the male segment of the population this year alone. For the female segment, 40,000 bowel cancer diagnoses are statistically expected as well.
The study was conducted by a team from both Sweden and the United States on a pool of 239,658 men born between 1952 and 1956. During 1969 and 1976, when they were 16 to 20 years of age the men underwent an obligatory health assessment required for enrollment in the Swedish military.
The records featured men’s height and weight, as well as the ESR. ESR stands for erythrocyte sedimenation rate and supposes measuring the inflammation levels in the body, which is informed by the decrease of erythrocytes’ number in the blood. All factors were taken into account for through study of the correlation between obesity and the risk of incidence of bowel cancer or colorectal cancer.
Being obese having a body mass index (BMI) that reaches 30 or surpasses this threshold. People with a BMI that levels 25 or goes above are overweight.
Previous studies on the matter have shown that both a BMI of over 25 and ESR in adults are connected with higher risks of bowel cancer diagnosis. However, there have been no significant studies regarding how these two medical conditions affect the risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a later point during adult life.
This new study came to fill the gap. While tracking the approximately 240,000 registries from the Swedish military, the research team coupled this data with a different data set retrieved from the national cancer registry.
The health conditions of the almost 240,000 men were tracked up to 2010.
The results of the merged data sets revealed that at the time of conscription, 81% of the young men presented a normal weight. 1.5% formed the overweight group. 1% was found to have a BMI above 30, leaving 5% moderately overweight.
Looking at the cancer registry data, 885 of the men were found to have colorectal cancer at a later stage in life. It stands that the possibility to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer were clearly higher for overweight and obese groups.
Compared to the other categories, the 1.5%, respectively 1% were found to be 2.08 times and 2.38 times more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Additionally, men with a high ESR diagnosed during adulthood, but who presented no inflammatory bowel disease at the time of enrollment, also indicated a 63% elevated risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer as opposed to the group with lower ESR.
According to the study, BMI and ESR are fully independent of each other regarding the contribution to the risk of developing bowel cancer.
Although the U.S.-Sweden study is relevant for understanding how teenage obesity or overweight can inflict the risk of bowel cancer diagnoses for men past teenage year, it reveals no information about the female segment of the population. Thus, the results should be treated with caution and not taken on a general note.
The findings of the study are featuring in Gut journal.
Image Source: National Post