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Obesity seems to increase the likelihood for developing precancerous growths called colorectal polyps, according to new research that offers fresh insight into colon cancer risk.
Specifically, the study links polyp risk to several key characteristics of obesity, including having elevated levels of the fat hormone leptin, having a higher body mass index (BMI) and having a larger waistline. BMI is a measurement of body fat taking height and weight into account.
However, investigators stressed that the current findings are not, as yet, definitive, and should not lead to any immediate revisions of current colorectal screening recommendations.
Co-author Jenifer Fenton said the study “cannot assume any cause, only association.” Fenton is an assistant professor and researcher in the department of food science and human nutrition at Michigan State University, in East Lansing.
“In order to change the recommendations, which right now advise men to get screened starting at the age of 50, we’d have to find out if obese men are more likely to develop these polyps at an earlier age than their lean counterparts,” Fenton explained.
“But we can’t yet say that,” she said. “For the moment, all we can say for sure is that obese men in this particular population were more likely to have polyps. We will need larger studies following a more generalized population over time to learn about timing.”
The study, funded in part by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, was published recently in the journal PLoS One.
The complete article is found here.