A recent study pointed out to more than twice the risk of esophageal cancer in overweight teens than those having a normal weight. The study, which is published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, also found that lower socioeconomic status as well as immigration from higher risk countries were important determinants of gastric cancer.
Zohar Levi, MD, MHA, of the Rabin Medical Center in Israel, and his colleagues measured body mass index in one million Israeli adolescent males who underwent a general health examination at an average age of 17 years from 1967 to 2005, and through the country's cancer registry, identified which of the participants later developed cancer. Participants were followed from 2.5 to almost 40 years, with an average follow-up of 18.8 years.
The researchers were amazed to find that events -- particularly weight and socioeconomic status -- up to the age of 17 years had a tremendous impact upon cancer development later in life. Adolescents who were overweight had a 2.1-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Adolescents who were of low socioeconomic status had a 2.2-fold increased risk of developing intestinal type gastric cancer. Those who had nine years or less of education had a 1.9-fold increased risk of developing this type of cancer. Also, immigrants born in Asian and former USSR countries had higher risks of developing gastric cancer (3.0-fold and 2.28-fold increased risks, respectively).