Increase in waist circumference in middle age is associated with increased bowel cancer risk, says a new study.
“This increased cancer risk may be due to persistent inflammation in people with obesity,” said researcher John Mathers, professor at Newcastle University in Britain.
“There is now compelling evidence that improved lifestyle, particularly better dietary choices and being more physically active can help to prevent obesity and this will lower bowel cancer risk,” Mathers noted.
The researchers found an overall increase of 18 percent in relative risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer per five unit increase in body mass index.
The risk increased by nearly 60 percent in men who gained at least 10 cm in waist circumference over 10 years.
In his studies with Lynch Syndrome patients, Mathers observed that aspirin lowered the excess colorectal cancer risk seen in patients with obesity, perhaps through its anti-inflammatory effects.
“This is a very intriguing finding which suggests that dietary and other anti-inflammatory agents might be beneficial in reducing colorectal cancer risk in people with obesity,” Mathers said.
“Bowel cancer is strongly associated with age, obesity and diet – and is driven by inflammation,” he explained.
“We can now give the public clear advice on the benefits of staying physically active, eating a healthy diet and avoiding weight gain to lower CRC risk as we get older,” Mathers said.