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Obese Teens at Increased Risk of Bowel Cancer

26/05/2015

Obese Teens at Increased Risk of Bowel CancerA new study has suggested that obese or very overweight teenagers are at twice the risk of developing bowel cancer in later life than their slimmer peers.

Xray of human heart

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK and adult obesity has long been thought to increase the risk of contracting it.

But now a team of researchers in the US have studied the records of some 240,000 men born in the early 1950s, who then went on to undergo a compulsory conscription assessment for the Swedish military in their late teens.

The difference between being overweight and obese all depends on a person’s body mass index (BMI). Having a BMI of 30 or more sees someone labelled ‘obese’ but even over 25 is still considered ‘overweight’.

All of the individuals were assessed in terms of their weight at the time of their conscription and while 81% were considered of ‘normal’ weight, 1.5% had a BMI of over 25 and 1% over 30.

An analysis of their health 35 years later discovered that 885 had been positively diagnosed with bowel cancer. Scientists found that those in the uppermost weight bracket were 2.38 times more likely to develop the condition.

While further research is needed, especially in women, the study by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts was published in the journal Gut and its authors said: "Even with these limitations it is important to recognise the unique strengths of this study.”

 

Photo credit: CSIRO
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