Obesity-Related Cancers on the Rise in Young Adults

A study published in The Lancet Public Health found that six obesity-related cancers are on the rise among young adults (25-49 years): multiple myeloma (MM), colorectal, uterine corpus, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer. In contrast, six obesity-related cancers that did not increase in this patient population were breast, esophageal, gastric cardia, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, thyroid, and ovarian cancer.

Researchers assessed incidence data for invasive cancers among individuals 25 to 84 years old who were diagnosed between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 2014, for 25 population-based U.S. state registries. They considered the 20 most common cancer types and 12 obesity-related cancers, for 30 total cancers.

During this time, there were 14,672,409 incident cases for 30 types of cancer. Incidence significantly increased for the six previously mentioned cancers, with steeper rises in successively younger generations. Annual increases ranged from 1.44% (95% CI, −0.60-3.53) for MM to 6.23% (95% CI, 5.32-7.14) for kidney cancer for patients 25 to 29 years, and ranged from 0.37% (95% CI, 0.03-0.72) for uterine corpus cancer to 2.95% (95% CI, 2.74-3.16) for kidney cancer for patients 45 to 49 years.

Compared with people born around 1950, incidence rate ratios for those born around 1985 ranged from 1.59 (95% CI, 1.14-2.21) for MM to 4.91 (95% CI, 4.27-5.65) for kidney cancer. Conversely, incidence in young adults increased in successively younger generations for only two cancers (gastric non-cardia cancer and leukemia) and decreased for eight of the 18 additional cancers.

Despite this, the study does not determine a causal relationship between obesity and cancer.

“The risk of developing an obesity-related cancer seems to be increasing in a stepwise manner in successively younger birth cohorts in the [United States],” the researchers concluded.

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Source: The Lancet Public Health