There have been quite a number of studies on the potential association between being overweight or obese in adolescence and an increased risk of colorectal cancer, however most of these studies have great limitations making them not completely reliable.
Zohar Levi, MD, of the Rabin Medical Center and the Tel Aviv University in Israel, and his colleagues, in a bid to provide a more reliable finding on the link between being overweight or obese in adolescence and an increased risk of developing colon cancer in adulthood, embarked on a large study involving over a million participants.
Levi and his team analyzed information on 1,087,358 Jewish males and 707,212 Jewish females. Participants of the study went through health examinations which included body mass index (BMI) measurements at age 16 to 19 years.
The participants were followed for an average of 23 years. During the follow-up period, Levi and his team found a total of 2967 new cases of colorectal cancer among men and women, 1977 among men (1403 colon, 574 rectum) and 990 among women (764 colon, 226 rectum).
The research team found that being overweight or obese was associated with 53% and 54% higher risks of colon cancer for men and women, respectively. In men, obesity was associated with a 71% increased risk of rectal cancer and more than a twofold increased risk in women.
According to Levi, this study is yet the largest study that has ever been carried out to prove the association between being overweight or obese in adolescence and an increased risk of colorectal cancer later in life. Findings of the study show why excess weight in childhood and adolescence should not be ignored.