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Researchers find obese people and tall, centrally obese people are more likely to get colorectal cancer

MedicalXpress Breaking News-and-Events Apr 24, 2024

A large international team of medical researchers has found that people with two types of body shape are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than people with other body types. In their study, published in the journal Science Advances, the group assessed body shape and genetic tendencies in thousands of people for risks of developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancers develop in the colon or rectum. Prior research has shown that colorectal cancer is the No. 2 leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.—approximately 150,000 cases are diagnosed each year. The lifetime risk for the disease is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women, though other factors also play a role in the likelihood of developing the disease, primarily lifestyle choices.

In 2016, a different team of researchers found evidence linking obesity in general, and central obesity in tall people, with a higher likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. In this new effort, the research team conducted similar research with a much larger group of people.

The study, the largest of its kind to date, involved gathering and studying data collected from 550,000 adults documented in the U.K. Biobank. They also studied genetic data from tissue samples collected from an additional 800 donors.

The research team found that tall people with an "apple" shape, which means they have a genetic tendency to put on weight around the middle, were more likely to develop colorectal cancer than people with other genetically coded body shapes. They found that tall people with an apple shape also tended to have more health problems related to the digestive system.

People who had genes that made them more likely to become obese due to unhealthy diet were also more susceptible to developing the disease. They also noted that the two body types had unique molecular pathways to the disease that were driven by certain genetic patterns.

© 2024 Science X Network

--Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress

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