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Very overweight teens may double risk of bowel cancer in middle age

Being very overweight in your teens may double the risk of developing bowel cancer by the time you are middle aged, suggests research published online in the journal Gut.

Those who were very overweight between aged 16-20, (with a BMI ranging between 27.5 and 30), were twice as likely to develop bowel cancer.

High levels of systemic inflammation at this age are also linked to a subsequent heightened risk of the disease.

Almost 240,000 Swedish men were monitored for an average of 35 years, who had been conscripted into the military between the ages of 16 and 20 in 1969-76.

Adult obesity and inflammation have been associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer, which is the third most common form of cancer among men, worldwide. However, less is known about how obesity and systemic inflammation might be influential during late adolescence.

No direct conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect as this is an observational study however the researchers said that the findings suggest that both BMI and inflammation during adolescence may have a role in the development of bowel cancer.