Overweight is linked to 17 cancers in young men

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Recent studies from the University of Gothenburg have unveiled a startling connection between the weight of men at age 18 and their risk for several types of cancer later in life.

The research found that young men who are overweight or obese when they turn 18 are more likely to develop as many as 17 different types of cancer as they age.

This includes common cancers like lung and colon cancer, but also less common types like thyroid and liver cancer.

The Scale of Risk

The studies, which are based on a vast number of participants, suggest that even a Body Mass Index (BMI) considered within the ‘normal’ range (20-22.4) at age 18 could increase cancer risk.

This raises questions about whether the current BMI definitions for normal weight are too broad for younger adults.

This isn’t just about Sweden. The research team predicts that if the current trend in youth obesity continues, in 30 years, more than half of certain cancer cases in the United States could be linked to high BMI during late teenage years.

Prostate Cancer: An Exception

Interestingly, prostate cancer risk was higher in men of normal weight at age 18. This might be because these men are more likely to seek medical help early on, leading to earlier diagnosis.

The studies also looked at what happens after a cancer diagnosis. They found that men who were overweight or obese at 18 had a higher chance of dying within five years after being diagnosed with various cancers.

These findings emphasize the importance of managing weight from a young age. The researchers stress that reversing the trend of youth obesity is crucial for future cancer prevention.

The Takeaway

For parents, educators, and healthcare providers, these studies highlight a critical message: maintaining a healthy weight during adolescence is more than just a matter of looking good or feeling fit—it could be a matter of life and death, affecting the risk of cancer decades later.

Understanding these risks is the first step in prevention. As the research suggests, strategies to combat obesity in young people could have a significant impact on reducing the future burden of cancer.

The research findings can be found in Obesity.

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