Adolescent obesity is associated with many health problems in later life, and a large Israeli study has shown that the increased risk of fatal pancreatic cancer is one of them. For more than 20 years, researchers have tracked nearly 2 million men and women. Compared with adolescents with normal weight, adolescent obese men have more than three times the risk of pancreatic cancer in adulthood, and adolescent obese women have more than four times the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Current research does not prove that obesity causes pancreatic cancer, but it does increase the risk of potential health problems. Chanan Meydan of Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, Israel, said, “Even without considering cancer, it is necessary to fight obesity, especially for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.” According to data from the World Health Organization, on a global scale , Nearly one in five children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Children and adolescents are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) (weight to height ratio) is higher than 95% of other young people of the same age and gender. BMI is considered overweight in the 85th to 95th percentile range.
In order to study the relationship between obesity and pancreatic cancer, the researchers analyzed the weight data of nearly 1.1 million men and more than 707,000 women who were compulsory for medical examinations between 16 and 19 years of age. When half of the people in the study were tracked for at least 23 years, the researchers looked at national cancer registry data, during which 423 men and 128 women were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The study found that even if the weight of adolescence is not enough to make them considered obese, men’s risk of pancreatic cancer will increase. Just because adolescents are overweight leads to a 97% increased risk of pancreatic cancer later in life. And, at the high end of the normal weight range, BMI is in the 75th to 85th percentiles, which is associated with a 49% increase in pancreatic cancer risk. Women only have a greater risk of pancreatic cancer when they are obese, not when they are overweight.
Dr. Zohar Levi, author of this study, wrote in the journal Cancer that overweight in adolescence may explain about 11% of pancreatic cancer cases in the population. The study authors pointed out that inflammation caused by overweight may lead to tumor development. More research is needed to further clarify how anti-obesity interventions reduce the risk of malignant tumors.