New research indicates that obesity during one's teenage years could greatly increase that chances of developing bowel cancer by middle age.
The correlation between adult obesity and increase bowel cancer risk, but less is known about how being very overweight in your teenage years can impact later bowel cancer risk.
Researchers led by Dr Elizabeth D Kantor, of the Harvard School of Public Health, revised the health records of approximate 240,000 Swedish men who had entered military service from 1969 through 1976. The men were all 16 to 20 years old at the time of their military conscription.
At enlistment, Swedish men are given a health check which includes measurements for height and weight, as well as ESR levels.
These men were then monitored for bowel cancer until 2010 via national cancer registry data. Most of the men (approximately 81%) were considered of standard weight at conscription, some (5%) were classified as overweight, and a 1% were labeled as obese.
Over the 35-year cancer monitoring period, 885 of the 240,000 men developed bowel cancer. Overweight individuals (BMI ranging from 27.5 to just under 30 kg/m2) were found to be twice as likely to develop bowel cancer as their fellow soldiers of average (BMI ranging 18.5 through 25 kg/m2) weight.
Obesity during the teenage years, classified by a BMI of over 30 kg/m2, was associated with a 2.38 times higher risk of later bowel cancer development. ESR was also found to be a factor; those men with a ESR of 15+ mm/hr had a 63% greater chance of developing bowel cancer than those with a low ESR of less than 10 mm/hr.
Further studies are needed, as this research was an observational study, but inflammation and weight status during adolescence do appear to be linked to a later increased risk of bowel cancer development.
Being very overweight in your teens may double the risk of developing bowel cancer by the time you are middle aged, suggests research published online in the journal Gut.