Excessive Weight in Early Adulthood May Be Linked With Cancer Risk

Pharmacy Times, January 2015 The Aging Population, Volume 81, Issue 1

Excess weight and weight gain during young adulthood may be associated with subsequent cancer risk in later life and should be avoided, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the December 2014 issue of the International Journal of Cancer, analyzed the relationship of body mass index (BMI) at age 25 (years) and percent weight change after age 25 to cancer incidence and mortality using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The ARIC study was a cohort study of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease and included self-reported weight data at age 25 from 15,792 patients in 4 US communities.

After adjusting for weight gain after age 25, the study found that a 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI at age 25 was associated with a greater incidence of all cancers in women (HR: 1.10), but not in men. A strong association was found with endometrial cancer (HR: 1.83).

After adjusting for BMI at age 25, the study found that a 5% weight gain after age 25 was associated with greater risks for postmenopausal breast cancer (HR: 1.05) and endometrial cancer (HR: 1.09) in women, and colorectal cancer (HR: 1.05) in men.

The authors noted that the study was limited by relatively small sample sizes for less common cancers, as well as potential recall error for patients’ self-reported weights at age 25. Nevertheless, the authors concluded that the study “supports the importance of avoiding excess weight during young adulthood