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Obesity Linked To Greater Risk Of Cancer In Young Adults

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Obesity is increasing young adults' risk of getting 13 different cancers and the evidence is overwhelming.

That's according to evidence from more than 100 publications compiled by a researcher with the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The analysis shows how a rise in obesity rates has shifted certain cancers to younger age groups and even intensifies certain cell functions that promote the disease. They're cancers that are usually associated with adults 50 and over.

This includes the following cancers: breast cancer, colorectal, kidney, endometrial, thyroid, pancreas, liver, myeloma, gastric, meningioma, ovary, esophageal and gallbladder.

Of the 20 most common cancers in the U.S., nine of them can be found in young adults, according to the review published in Obesity. The review describes how the childhood "pandemic" promotes cancer and offers a better way to avoid a public health crisis.

Who's at risk exactly?

It's young people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 or more, that are most at risk, according to the review's author Nathan A. Berger, MD.  It's something that could have a lasting effect on their health,  permanently altering their likelihood of developing cancer even after losing the weight.

"If you are obese, you are at a higher risk of cancer. If you lose weight, it improves the prognosis and may lower your risk, but it never goes away completely," said Berger.

This is because obesity changes a person's DNA in a way that can increase their cancer risk.

How does it work?

Obesity accelerates the cancer's progress by doing several things like causing the immune system to produce harmful byproducts and affecting the person's metabolism causing hormone imbalances that help cancer thrive.

As for how to prevent it, Berger had this to say,  "the most effective way to curtail development of this problem is to prevent the expansion of the obesity pandemic in both children and adults."

It's a step that could affect 110 million children and adolescents with obesity around the world.

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