Vitality

Body Weight, Height During Adolescence May Predict Risk Of Developing Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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New research suggests body weight and height during adolescence can predict one's risk for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma later in life. Pixabay

Being overweight or obese is a known risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, but new research published in Cancer suggests the two may also predict risk of developing Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. About 72,580 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and more than 20,000 will die from it. Current risk factors for developing this type of cancer include old age, exposure to chemicals such as benzene and certain herbicides and insecticide, and some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The study, led by Dr. Merav Leiba, of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, found the taller and heavier people were during adolescence, the more likely they were to develop cancer later in life. These findings suggest increasing cancer rates may be linked to rising rates of obesity.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 2 million teens aged 16 to 19 years old who were examined between 1967 and 2011. Their information was linked to the Israel National Cancer Registry, which included more than 4,000 cases of the disease from 1967 through 2012.

Researchers found that being overweight or obese during adolescence was associated with a 25 percent increased risk of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma later in life compared with those who were a normal weight. Researchers also found a positive association for multiple subtypes of the cancer.

Interplay of weight and height during adolescence may contribute to the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, too. When compared to the mid-range height category, shorter individuals had a 25 percent reduced risk of developing the cancer, whereas the tallest individuals had a 28 percent increased risk. In the end, researchers concluded, "excess height and weight were responsible for 6 and 3 percent of all Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma cases, respectively."

"Obesity and overweight during adolescence are risk factors for future Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma," Leiba said in a statement. "It is important to be aware that overweight and obesity are not risk factors only for diabetes and cardiovascular disease but also for lymphomas."

Leiba added excess height and nutrition in childhood may "have impacts on inflammatory molecules and growth factors that could support the development of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma." However, they said more research is needed to better investigate the link between childhood or adolescent obesity and cancer risk.

Source: Leiba M, Leiba A, Keinan-Boker L, et al. Adolescent Weight and Height are Predictors of Specific Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Subtypes Among a Cohort of 2,352,988, 16-19 Year Olds. Cancer. 2016.

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