In a new study, researchers found if people are overweight before age 40, they may increase their cancer risk.
The research was conducted by an international team led by the University of Bergen.
Obesity is a global challenge and associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer.
In this study, the team focused on the degree, timing, and duration of overweight and obesity in relation to cancer risk.
The team examined how adult overweight (BMI over 25) and obesity (BMI over 30) increase the risk of different types of cancer.
They included adults with two or more measurements, obtained at least three years apart, and before a possible cancer diagnosis. On average, the individuals were followed for about 18 years.
They showed that if you were overweight before age 40, the risk of developing cancer increases by:
70% for endometrial cancer.
58% for male renal-cell cancer.
29% for male colon cancer.
15% for all obesity-related cancers (both men and women).
Obese participants (BMI over 30) at the first and second health examination had the highest risk of developing obesity-related cancer, compared to participants with normal BMI.
The risk increased by 64% for men and 48% for women.
The results from the study show that overweight and obese adults have an increased risk of postmenopausal breast, endometrial, renal-cell and colon cancer.
The key message is that preventing weight gain may be an important public health strategy to reduce cancer risk.
The lead author of the study is Professor Tone Bjørge, at Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen.
The study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
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