Overweight boys at greater risk of colon cancer as adults, but losing weight may modify risk

May 20, 2017

New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20 May) suggests that overweight boys may be at greater risk of colon (bowel) cancer when they grow up than their slimmer friends. However, overweight boys who shed the pounds and achieve a healthy weight by young adulthood do not appear to be at increased risk of colon cancer as adults. The findings underline how important it is for children to be a healthy weight.

Colon is the 4th most common cancer in adults, with around 41,000 cases diagnosed each year in the UK. Previous research shows that are at higher risk of as adults, but it is unclear whether changes in (BMI) between childhood and alter this risk.

In this study, Dr Britt Wang Jensen and Associate Professor Jennifer Baker from Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark and colleagues analysed the health records of over 61,000 Danish school boys born between 1939 and 1959, to examine how changes in BMI in childhood and young adulthood are associated with colon cancer risk in adulthood. Participants' weight and height were measured at age 7 years and in young adulthood (age 17-26 years) and BMI was calculated. These were then linked with the Danish Cancer Register and followed from the age of 40 years to identify cases of colon cancer.

During an average (median) 25-year follow-up, more than 700 boys went on to develop colon cancer. Analyses showed that boys who were overweight (BMI greater than 17.88 kg/m2) at age 7 years but normal weight (BMI under 25.0 kg/m2) as young men had similar risk of adult colon cancer as those who maintained a stable, throughout. In contrast, overweight boys who remained overweight as young men had twice the colon cancer risk. The study took educational level into account but not lifestyle factors that might contribute to a person's risk of developing cancer.

The authors conclude: "Overweight boys that lose weight and achieve a normal-weight status by young adulthood do not carry an increased risk of adult colon cancer compared with boys who remain normal-weight as young men. However, overweight boys who remain overweight as young men have an increased risk of adult colon cancer. These results highlight the importance of weight management in childhood."

They add: "Our next steps are to expand our focus and examine other forms of cancer along with other non-communicable diseases to create a full picture of how a man's weight development across his life, even from birth, is associated with his risk of disease."

Explore further: Keeping young women's weight gain to less than 800g/year helps prevent progression from healthy weight to overweight

Related Stories

Keeping young women's weight gain to less than 800g/year helps prevent progression from healthy weight to overweight

May 19, 2017
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20 May) shows that rates of weight gain are established by the time women are 18-23 years old. Measuring rates of weight gain ...

Excess weight early in life linked to colon cancer risk in women

April 2, 2015
(HealthDay)—Women who were overweight as children and teens may have a greater risk of colon cancer, no matter what their current weight, a new study cautions.

Keep colon cancer at bay

March 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—Colon cancer can be treated and cured if it's diagnosed early, and a colonoscopy is one of the best ways to detect the disease, a gastroenterologist says.

Family history of colon cancer calls for earlier screening

March 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you've got a family history of colon or rectal cancers, you probably need to start screening for these conditions before you turn 50, a cancer expert says.

Being overweight in childhood may heighten lifetime risk of depression

May 19, 2017
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity suggests that being overweight, especially from a young age, may substantially increase the lifetime risk of major depression.

Overweight children may be at higher risk of oesophageal cancer as adults

February 5, 2015
Overweight children may be at higher risk of oesophageal (gullet) cancer when they grow up than their slimmer friends, according to research published this week in the British Journal of Cancer.

Recommended for you

Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for cancer

September 22, 2017
Cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, arises from the disruption of essential mechanisms of the normal cell life cycle, such as replication control, DNA repair and cell death. Thanks to the advances ...

'Labyrinth' chip could help monitor aggressive cancer stem cells

September 21, 2017
Inspired by the Labyrinth of Greek mythology, a new chip etched with fluid channels sends blood samples through a hydrodynamic maze to separate out rare circulating cancer cells into a relatively clean stream for analysis. ...

Drug combination may improve impact of immunotherapy in head and neck cancer

September 21, 2017
Checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapy has been shown to be very effective in recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer but only in a minority of patients. University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers ...

Whole food diet may help prevent colon cancer, other chronic conditions

September 21, 2017
A diet that includes plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits may contain compounds that can stop colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases in pigs, according to an international team of researchers. Understanding how ...

New kinase detection method helps identify targets for developing cancer drugs

September 21, 2017
Purdue University researchers have developed a high-throughput method for matching kinases to the proteins they phosphorylate, speeding the ability to identify multiple potential cancer drug targets.

Poliovirus therapy induces immune responses against cancer

September 20, 2017
An investigational therapy using modified poliovirus to attack cancer tumors appears to unleash the body's own capacity to fight malignancies by activating an inflammation process that counter's the ability of cancer cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.