A new study by Tel Aviv University claims a connection between overweight children and the development of cancer later on in their lives. According to the study, overweight children have a 40 percent higher chance of developing cancer in the urinal tract or large intestine as adults.
The authors of the study based their information on statistics provided by the Israel Defense Forces medical branch. The information included parameters of more than one million male youths between the ages 16 and 19 who served in the Israel Defense Forces between the years 1967 and 2005. The medical conditions of the youths were monitored for 18 years after they were drafted into the IDF.
The study showed that men who during their childhood were among the top 15% on the BMI (body mass index) scale, had a 42% higher possibility in their adulthood of contracting cancer in the urinal tract or large intestine. The risk reached 75% for men who were monitored until the age of 40 or above.
According to the study, 10% of those covered in the first decade of the research suffered from obesity and the number rose to 17% in the last period covered by the research.
"We must consider whether obesity is a direct cause of cancer or if the two phenomenon result from a common genetic variation. Basic research can help us more deeply understand the connection between obesity and cancer," Dr. Ari Shamiss, one of the study's authors, said.
Shamiss, who works at Tel Aviv University and the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, said that he believes further studies will reveal a connection between obesity at a young age and other types of cancer as well.
"A critical question is whether a reduction in the weight of an obese child will reduce the risk of cancer as an adult. This study did not examine if a reduction in weight leads to a significant difference in the risk," Shamiss said.
Shamiss added that "Future studies should focus on the connection between obesity and cancer and whether or not weight loss in youths minimizes the risk. Experts today are already emphasizing the importance of preventing childhood obesity, but the latest study certainly raises a red flag."