Obese children 50 percent more likely to develop cancer compared to normal weight children

Saturday, October 06, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: obese children, cancer risk, body weight

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(NaturalNews) Individuals who struggled with obesity as children are about 50 percent more likely to develop certain forms of cancer as adults compared to those who were of a normal weight as children. These are the findings of a new study published in the journals Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention and Obesity that sheds new light on the long-term health effects of being overweight.

Dr. Ari Shamiss, Dr. Adi Leiba, and their colleagues from Tel Aviv University's (TAU) Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center in Israel came to this conclusion after evaluating the health data of 1.1 million males serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. The Israeli Army collected this data while the men served, and conducted follow-ups on them for 18 years thereafter, which the team then used to conduct a comparative health analysis.

After adjusting for outside factors that may have affected the integrity of the data, the team observed that men who had a body mass index (BMI) above the 84th percentile as children had a 1.42 percent greater chance, or nearly a 50 percent higher risk, of developing either urothelial or colorectal cancer compared to children below the 84th percentile. And based on their observations, the team believes childhood obesity is likely linked to an increased risk of other cancers and health conditions as well.

Though it is unclear from the research whether or not childhood obesity plays a direct role in cancer risk, Dr. Shamiss and his team are convinced that there is a definitive link worthy of further investigation. He and his team are currently working on further research to identify whether or not weight loss efforts during childhood can help decrease cancer risk as an adult, for instance.

"We need to examine the questions of whether obesity is a direct risk factor for cancer or a confounding factor for a genetic variation," says Dr. Shamiss. "New research should focus on researching the pathogenetic link between obesity and cancer, and whether losing weight in adulthood could lower the risk," he added.

Childhood obesity linked to severe health conditions in adulthood

An earlier study out of Scotland found a similar link between childhood obesity and adult diseases. Researchers from the University of Bristol (UB) found that overweight children are at an increased risk of developing pancreatic, bladder, lung, respiratory tract and mouth cancers when they are adults, as well as colorectal, breast, and prostate tumors, compared to healthy children.

"If the cancer risk among today's young people mimics that of previous generations, our observations suggest that the impact of current childhood obesity on the cancer burden in the second half of this century may be substantial," says the UB study, which was published in the International Journal of Cancer. "Efforts to reverse the increasing prevalence of obesity must continue to be supported."

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