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Teenage obesity can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer later



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Wednesday, November 14, 2018 (HealthDay News) – Obesity in adolescent years may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in adulthood, the researchers report.

The odds for this cancer rarely can be quadrupled due to obesity, the team of Israeli researchers found. Moreover, the risk increases with increasing weight, even affecting men in the high normal weight range.

It has been known for some time that obesity can increase an individual's risk of developing pancreatic cancer, and [this is] a new important breakthrough that suggests that obesity and overweight in adolescence can also impact the risk, "said Allison Rosenzweig, a senior manager of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

But overweight or obesity does not cause you illness, Rosenzweig said, who had no role in the study.

Because pancreatic cancer is a relatively rare disease, it is believed to have an impact on around 55,000 Americans this year, even those at high risk have a low probability of developing the disease, she said.

Also, since this study looked at retrospective data, it can not prove that overweight is a cause of pancreatic cancer, but there is an association.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States with a five-year survival rate below 10 percent, depending on the cancer network.

For the new study, researchers led by Dr. Zohar Levi, from Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv University, collected data on more than 1 million Jews and 700,000 Jewish women in Israel. Participants had physical exams between the ages of 16 and 19 between 1967 and 2002.

Using the Israeli Cancer Registry at national level, researchers identified cases of pancreatic cancer by 2012. Their follow up revealed 551 new cases of pancreatic cancer.

Compared to normal weight, obesity has been associated with a nearly four times higher cancer risk among men. Among women, the risk was slightly more than four times higher, the researchers found.

Overall, the researchers attributed nearly 11 percent of pancreatic cases to overweight teenagers and obesity.

The report was published online on November 12 in a journal Cancer.

Dr. Chanan Meydan, from Mayana Hayeshua Medical Center in Israel, wrote an editorial accompanying the study. He said weight gain in adolescence may increase inflammation, which damages the cells and may increase the risk of cancer.

It would be interesting to find out whether the inflammatory process in obesity has links with the inflammatory process in malignancy. Are they connected in a way? Meydan said.

The mechanism behind the inflammation is "for the most part, a delicately balanced phenomenon, with serious consequences when out of balance," he said.

Learn more about how this "control panel" works can help scientists better understand the association between obesity and cancer, Meydan added.

More information

The National Cancer Institute in the US has more information about pancreatic cancer.

SOURCES: Chanan Meydan, MD, Mayan Hayeshua Medical Center, Bnei Brak, Israel; Allison Rosenzweig, Ph.D., senior manager, scientific and clinical communications, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network; November 12, 2018, Cancer, online

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