Obesity and cancer: Affecting people in younger ages

Obesity-associated malignancies are becoming more common in younger patients. Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, gallbladder cancer, liver cancer, gastric cancer, and myeloma risks are on the rise.

Recent US study is attracting attention and concern

Obesity-associated malignancies are becoming increasingly common in younger patients. Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, gallbladder cancer, liver cancer, gastric cancer, and myeloma risks are on the rise.

Current analyses by the International Agency for Research on Cancer have shown that there is "sufficient evidence" that increased body weight and obesity are associated with various tumor entities. An estimated 4% of cancers worldwide could be attributed to an increased Body Mass Index (BMI > 25 kg/m2). In cases of a combination of obesity and diabetes mellitus, the figure is as high as 6%. However, a study from the USA also looked into the possible relationship between the age of onset of the disease and body weight.

For this purpose, the researchers looked at medical data registers and looked at the age of patients diagnosed with tumors and their physical condition. It was important to distinguish between obesity-associated and non-associated tumors.

In total, 13 tumor entities were found which must be considered as obesity-associated, such as breast, ovarian and gastrointestinal carcinomas. It was noticeable in the overall evaluation that the proportion of patients with obesity-associated carcinomas increased particularly in the age group of 50 to 64-year-olds (about + 52%). Here the incidence of liver and thyroid carcinomas increased the most, although this did not depend on sex or ethnicity.

This study once again illustrates the importance of overweight as a factor in the development of malignancies. Unfortunately, according to the authors, this connection is still too often overlooked or simply ignored.

Koroukian SM et al., Changes in age distribution of obesity-associated cancers. JAMA Network Open. 2019; 2 (8): e199261. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.9261

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