March 27

Deadly Pancreatic Cancer Is Another Risk With Teenage Obesity

Patients being overweight are one of the most common problems we see in the office regularly, if not THE most. And the two goals that people want to achieve most frequently? More energy and less weight! So, most people know that carrying around the extra weight is not a good thing for more than just personal image reasons. There are a whole host of health issues that extra “baggage” carries with it, and some may be pretty grave.

Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure are most commonly associated with being overweight or obese, but cancer risk should also be a concern as well. It has been known that obesity can increase an individual’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a particularly deadly form of the disease. But being obese in the teen years may actually quadruple the chances of developing this condition as an adult!

While the incidence of the disease is lower compared to other forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadlier types. It is estimated to affect around 55,000 Americans each year, but is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent. 

A study published online in the journal Cancertook a look at incidence rates compared to weight status. Over 1 million Jewish men and 700,000 Jewish women in Israel who had physical examinations between ages 16 to 19 from 1967 to 2002 were identified. Tracking them through 2012, the following trends were noted:

  • 551 cases of pancreatic cancer were discovered
  • Compared to normal weight individuals, the obese subjects had a four times greater risk
  • The researchers attributed almost 11% of the pancreatic cases to teenage overweight and obesity.
  • The risk factor also appeared to rise as weight increased to higher levels

One proposed theory behind these potential relationships was that inflammation could be a driving factor. While transient inflammation is a normal part of healing after injury has occurred in the body, persistent inflammation may cause unwanted stress and damage over time to healthy cells. If this occurs, cancer can develop in the midst of all these crisis-state reactions.

Your best defense here? Maintain a healthy weight and keep inflammation to a minimum. What will help you best achieve both of those goals? A healthy diet! All day long we are educating patients about the power that diet can have on your health, both positive and negative. The goal should be to keep it as supportive as possible, as much as possible. If you do, you generally expect to reap the rewards of good health. Let it slide, and you might be letting some unwanted health issues creep in, with potentially dire consequences!


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