Obesity-linked cancer risk rises in young

The cancer-obesity issue "is a really important topic because we've had an obesity crisis now for a number of decades", said John Jakicic, a professor and director of the Healthy Lifestyle Institute at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

The new study may serve as a warning that if the obesity epidemic continues, there could be an explosion of these fat-sensitive cancers in the years to come, said the study's senior author, Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, scientific vice president of surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society.

Mirroring the decades-long increase in obesity rates in the USA, cancers that are thought to be driven at least in part by excess weight are also on the rise among people under age 50, a new study suggests.

The American Cancer Society believes this shift could impede the progress recently made in battling cancer. They looked at the rates of 30 different cancers, including the 12 obesity-related cancers, and 18 other cancers that have not been tied to obesity, such as lung and skin cancer.

"Importantly, the findings suggest the need for further close epidemiological monitoring of cancer incidence trends in younger adults", she said.

Patients were divided into five-year age groups from 25-29 to 80-84 years old.

The researchers found that rates of six obesity-related cancers - colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic, and thyroid - increased among adults ages 25 to 49 during the study period. Not everyone who gets these cancers is overweight either, and not everyone who is obese will necessarily get these cancers.

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This is because fat cells are active in the body, releasing hormones and electrical signals which encourage cells to divide and grow.

'On the eve of World Cancer Day, it's timely to consider what can be done to avert the impending rise'.

"Shockingly, if the same is happening with cancer in the United States it could already be happening here". Rates of some of these same cancers also increased among older adults, but the increases were much smaller, the researchers said.

The average annual percentage change in pancreatic cancer incidence increased with decreasing age, from 0.77 per cent for those aged between 45 and 49 to 4.34 per cent for those aged between 25 and 29.

The younger the age group, the greater the size of the increase in all seven of the cancer types except for thyroid cancer. By 2014, obesity accounted for 60% of endometrial cancers, 36% of gallbladder cancers, 33% of kidney cancers, 17% of pancreatic cancers and 11% of multiple myeloma among adults ages 30 and older, the new paper says.

Meanwhile, they found cancers linked to smoking and infections were declining in younger age groups.

'Younger generations are experiencing earlier and longer-lasting exposure to excess fat and to obesity-related health conditions that can increase cancer risk'. Such a discovery could negate our own recent advances in treating cancers but until the NHS seriously begins to screen for obesity, as recommended by the study's authors, we may not know.

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