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Obesity in adolescence as an important risk factor for cancer

A group of researchers from Israel points out in an article published in early February 2020 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology that the increasing prevalence of adolescent obesity and the possible association between adolescent body mass index (BMI) and cancer incidence could significantly increase the number of obesity-related cancers in the future . Obesity has already been established as a causative factor in several types of cancer, and the proportion of obese adolescents in the world is continuously growing.

The researchers therefore examined the association between BMI at age 17 and cancer incidence and mortality among those who developed cancer. In a population-based cohort of adolescents in Israel, height and weight were measured by a mandatory medical examination in the period from 1967 to 2010. BMI is classified according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in percentages. The primary outcome was cancer diagnosis between January 1967 and December 2012, and the secondary all-cause mortality among cohort members who had cancer between January 1967 and December 2017.

A total of 2,298,130 participants took part in the study, of which 928,110 were women and 1,370,020 were men. During follow-up, 26,353 cases of cancer were recorded in men, and 29,488 cases in women. It was observed that the incidence of cancer gradually increased with increasing BMI. In men, this association was particularly strong (hazard risk 1.26 in men with adolescent obesity). Among women, the research team found no association between obesity and overall cancer. When cervical and breast cancers were excluded (some researchers believe they are inversely related to obesity), the adjusted hazard risk for cancer was 1.27 among women with adolescent obesity ( similar to the result in men).

In conclusion, in both sexes, a high body mass index (especially above the 85th centile) is associated with an increased risk of cancer after 10 years. BMI was also positively associated with a higher risk of mortality, at 5.1% for men and 5.7% for women. The authors concluded that BMI among adolescents can represent an important target for intervention in cancer prevention.

You can read the entire article at the link.

obesity in adolescence

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