A higher BMI in childhood appears to increase the risk for developing esophageal adenocarcinoma later in life, according to recent study data.
Jennifer L. Baker
Baker and colleagues performed a prospective analysis using the health records of 255,053 children (128,330 boys; 126,723 girls) born between 1930 and 1971 to determine associations between childhood BMI and development of esophageal adenocarcinoma in adulthood (at age 40 years or later). The analysis was restricted to children whose height and weight were measured from age 7 to 13 years.
Overall, 254 incident esophageal adenocarcinoma cases (216 men; 38 women) occurred during more than 5.4 million person-years of follow-up. Risk for cancer increased per BMI z score at each age examined (age 7; HR = 1.14; 95% CI, 0.99-1.31 and age 13; HR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.13-1.51). These associations did not differ significantly between sexes, but risk per unit increased with childhood height z score for females (age 13; HR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.27-2.47).
“Our results suggest that the increase in the number of overweight and obese children might lead to a significant rise in future cases of esophageal cancer,” Baker said in a press release. “It may be that being overweight as a child is directly linked to a higher risk of developing this cancer in later life. Or it might be that overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults, and we know that being above a healthy weight as an adult is a risk factor for many cancers, including esophageal.” More research is needed, she said. – by Adam Leitenberger
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.