Adolescent`s weight, socioeconomic status affects risk of developing cancer later in life

Washington: A new study from Israel has suggested that weight and socioeconomic status - up to the age of 17 years- has a tremendous impact upon cancer development later in life.

The research found that overweight adolescents were twice as likely as their normal weight peers to later develop esophageal cancer, while lower socioeconomic status, as well as immigration from higher risk countries was 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.

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.

"Adolescents who are overweight and obese are prone to esophageal cancer, probably due to reflux that they have throughout their life. Also, a lower socioeconomic position as a child has a lot of impact upon incidence of gastric cancer as an adult," Levi said.

The study is published in the journal CANCER.