May 22, 2017
1 min read

Normal weight in childhood lowers males' risk for adult colon cancer

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Overweight boys are at increased risk for adult colon cancer compared with normal-weight boys; however, achieving a healthy weight by young adulthood diminishes that risk, according to data presented at the European Congress on Obesity.

“The results of the study show that overweight boys can reduce their risk of adult colon cancer if they normalize their weight before adulthood, highlighting the importance of treatment and prevention of childhood obesity,” Britt Wang Jensen, PhD, from Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Denmark, told Healio Gastroenterology.

Britt Wang Jensen, PhD

Britt Wang Jensen

Because overweight children are at higher risk for colon cancer as adults, researchers sought to determine whether changes in BMI during childhood and young adulthood alter the risk. Jensen and colleagues examined the health records of over 61,000 school boys born between 1939 and 1959 to assess the association between BMI in childhood and adolescence with colon cancer risk in adulthood. They measured participant’s weight and height at age 7 years and at ages 17 through 26 years, then calculated BMI. To identify cases of colon cancer, participants were followed from age 40 years.

More than 700 boys developed colon cancer during an average 25-year follow-up. Boys who were overweight at age 7 years and normal weight as young men experienced similar risk for colon cancer in adulthood as those who maintained a healthy weight throughout. However, overweight boys who remained heavy into young adulthood had twice the colon cancer risk. Lifestyle factors that might contribute to a person’s risk for developing colon cancer were not considered for the current study.

“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,” she said in the press release. – by Savannah Demko


Jensen BW, et al. OS10:OC46. Presented at: The European Congress on Obesity; May 17-20, 2017; Porto, Portugal.

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.