THURSDAY, Oct. 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- While rates of colon cancer have declined among people 50 and older, they're on the rise for younger Americans. Now, new research suggests widening waistlines may be one reason why.
"Our findings really highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, beginning in early adulthood, for the prevention of early onset colorectal cancer," said study co-author Yin Cao. She's an assistant professor of surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.
Even though obesity has been floated as a possible reason for rising colon cancer rates among the young, "we were surprised by the strength of the link," Cao said in a university news release.
The study wasn't designed to prove cause and effect, only an association. But one colon cancer expert wasn't surprised by the finding.
Dr. Jeffrey Aronoff, a colorectal surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, noted that obesity has long been a risk factor for colon cancer in people over 50. "I do believe that a healthy lifestyle, which includes diet, exercise," may help curb even younger people's odds for the disease, he said.
In the new study, Cao and her colleagues collected data on more than 85,000 U.S. women ages 25 to 44 who took part in a large, ongoing study.
Women who were heavy as teens and gained weight in early adulthood had an increased risk of colon cancer before age 50, the researchers found.
In fact, they estimated that about 22 percent of early onset colon cancers could have been prevented if those who were diagnosed had maintained a healthy weight. Across the whole American population, that could represent thousands of cases of early onset colon cancer that might be prevented.
The risk of early onset colon cancer for overweight and obese women was the same regardless of whether or not the woman had a family history of the disease.
Source : https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/news/20181011/obesity-doubles-younger-womens-odds-for-colon-cancer