Obesity in teen boys may increase risk of bowel cancer in later life


Teenage boys who are obese may double their risk of developing bowel cancer, a Swedish study suggests.

The study, which involved over 230,000 Swedish males between the ages of 16-20 who were conscripted into the military found that those who were in the upper ranges of overweight and those who were obese were twice as likely to develop bowel cancer within the next 35 years when compared to those who were a normal weight.

There are strong links between obesity in adulthood and increased risk of bowel cancer, however there has been limited research to prove that obesity in childhood (or late teenage years) can increase risks of developing bowel cancer also. This study will help develop our understanding of bowel cancer and the risk factors associated with it.

Research has shown that people from BME communities are less likely to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer in comparison to the general population which leads to lower uptake of screening and delayed presentation for diagnosis. National statistics also suggest that Black African children have the highest obesity rates of all ethnic groups. These statistics coupled with the results from this study indicates that BME communities may be at a greater risk of developing bowel cancer compared with the general population.

Research suggests that you can help lower your risk of bowel cancer by:

• Cutting down on your consumption of red meat (no more than 70g a day) and processed meat

• eating lots of fibre-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables

• quitting smoking if you smoke

• sticking within recommended alcohol consumption levels

• taking regular exercise