Obese adults who were overweight or obese in childhood and early adulthood are at twice the risk for developing colon cancer compared to adults with consistently normal weight, according to investigators from New York University (NYU). Findings could lead to more targeted colon cancer screening recommendations and preventative interventions.
Fritz Francois, MD, MS, assistant dean for academic affairs and diversity and assistant professor of medicine at NYU's Langone Medical Center, and colleagues studied the current and past body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference of 1,865 patients referred for a screening colonoscopy. Past BMIs were estimated from patient recall of body type and clothing size at ages 10 and 20. Each patient's level of obesity at specific age points were compared with the information from the screening colonoscopy, including the number, size and location of each polyp found.
From their analysis, investigators found a significant prevalence of polyps in patients who had been consistently overweight or obese (27 percent), especially compared to patients with consistently normal BMI (13 percent) and overweight BMIs at present (19 percent). This study also observed that specific racial and ethnic group participants were more likely to be obese at present and throughout their life, increasing their risk of polyps.
"Our findings suggest that the chronicity of obesity is a significant risk factor for developing colon cancer," said Dr. Francois. "Given the continued rise in early-onset obesity, especially in minority populations, there is a need for interventions and lifestyle modifications earlier in life to help lessen this serious health risk later in life."
Dr. Francois also noted that these findings might help clinicians better target individuals for screening colonoscopies.
While this study shows that obesity is an additional factor that pr
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