Study links childhood obesity to cancer in adults
Researchers find risk for colon or bladder cancer in adulthood is 40 percent higher in adults who were overweight as children.
cancer cell Photo: Thinkstock/Imagebank
Tel Aviv University researchers have found a connection between obesity in
childhood and colon or bladder cancer in adulthood. The risk for these malignant
tumors is 40 percent higher in adults who were overweight as
Dr. Adi Leiba, Prof. Arnon Afek and Dr. Ari Shamiss of Tel Aviv
University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center in Tel
Hashomer, together with researchers from the IDF’s medical corps and the
Hadassah Medical Organization, just published their study in the journal Cancer
Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
It has long been known that
maintaining normal weight is vital because being overweight can raise the risk
of diabetes, heart disease and joint and muscle pain. But the research team, who
studied the health records of 1.1 million 18-yearold male draftees and followed
them up for a period of another 18 years, has now found that obesity can be
clearly linked with the two kinds of cancer.
The researchers began with
urological cancer and cancer of the large intestine, but state that in the
future, they think more research will show direct links between childhood
obesity and many others tumors – including pancreatic cancer, which they are now
They defined obesity in children as weight in the top 15% of
the body mass index (BMI) tables. The American Heart Association has said that
one out of every three children and teenagers in the US is obese.
rate is still lower in Israel, but the numbers are rising.
the results of the study demonstrated that more research is needed in the
“For example, we must examine whether obesity is a direct risk
factor for cancer or perhaps the two phenomena result from a joint genetic
variation. Basic research can help us understand in more depth the connection
between obesity and cancer,” he said.
One of the critical questions, he
added, was whether weight loss reduces children’s risk of contracting cancer as
The database included fat children who were compared to those
of normal weight, but did not investigate whether weight loss had a significant
difference in risk.
“Today, we see the importance of preventing obesity
in children, but this new finding undoubtedly produces a warning light,” Shamiss