A new study published in Gut Magazine reports that obese teenage males are twice as likely to develop colorectal cancer in middle age as their more fit contemporaries. The study, which began in 1969, followed 239,658 Swedish males between the ages of 16 and 20 years old (average age 18).
The finding show a 2.38-fold increase in cancer for those who were obese as teens and not surprisingly, the greater the level of obesity (as determined by BMI – body mass index) the greater the increase in cancer.
The researchers note: “[T]he strong association observed between adolescent obesity and early-to-mid-life CRC (colorectal cancer), coupled with the increasing prevalence of adolescent obesity…may shed light on the increase in CRC incidence among young adults in the USA.”
The study group only followed young males who were eligible (by age) for induction in the military, as at the time Sweden had a mandatory military service policy. It is therefore unknown whether similar effects would be found with female teens.
Unfortunately the study did not incorporate information on the type of diet consumed, as other studies have shown a link between high consumption of fast foods and red meat as associated with a higher incidence of colon cancers, while diets high in vegetables and fiber correspond with a lower rate of CRC’s