Researchers investigating Pennsylvania birth records have found links between severe obesity and childhood cancer. The research involved around two million Pennsylvania birth records together with approximately 3,000 registered records (cancer). Pennsylvania Birth RecordsThese records filed between 2003 through 2016. The results revealed that mother’s who gave birth with a BMI in excess of 40 passed on a 57% risk to their children of leukemia prior to the age of 5. The analysis also dispelled the premise i.e. cancer in children and known risks. However it was discovered that the size of the mother was independently attributed to the risk. The researchers cite the possible causical effects of insulin levels during the development of the foetus along with possible changes in the mother’s DNA expression passed to her child. The full study can be read in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The lead author hopes that the report can be motivating and empowering for weight loss. Weight loss, no matter how significant, can lead to a meaningful reduction in risk. There remains the fact though that we are in the grip of an obesity epidemic. Maintaining a healthy weight is good for both baby and mother. It is hoped that the report can be “empowering and also motivating for weight loss”
Source: University of PittsburghOriginal Study
Journal Reference: Shaina L Stacy, Jeanine M Buchanich, Zhen-qiang Ma, Christina Mair, Linda Robertson, Ravi K Sharma, Evelyn O Talbott, Jian-Min Yuan.
Additional authors are from the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The National Cancer Institute and the Arnold Palmer Endowment Fund funded the work in to Pennsylvania birth records.

While the report also relays the important message of weight loss and a healthy balanced diet over the years child obesity rates have been on the rise. As a consequence this extra weight may well be manifesting itself in cancer cases. Those types or strains of cancer typically associated with the over 50’s now, more frequently, affect younger adults. A study found that nine (out of 20) of the most common cancer cases occurred in young adults. Approximately 1 in 4 new thyroid cases were diagnosed in the 20-44 year old bracket. In the same age group around 1 in 10 breast cancer cases was discovered.

While scientists have been aware for some time that obesity carries an increased cancer risk and when cancer affects an obese individual the prognosis is very much likely to be worse. There are approximately 140,000 obesity related cancers each year. The report from 2018 highlights the increased percentage of 9 (of 13 with ties to obesity) known cancers in 20 – 44 year olds:

Endometrial cancer – 7.3 %
Gastric cardia (stomach cancer (top)) – 6.2
Ovarian cancer – 10.6 %
Thyroid cancer – 23.9 %
Colon and rectal cancer – 5.8 %
Breast cancer – 10.5 %
Liver cancer – 2.5%
Kidney cancer – 7.8%
Meningioma (cancer in the lining of the spinal cord and brain) – 16.8 %

Commentary on the report from 2018 suggested there was still a lot to be learnt and the report on Pennsylvania birth records moves the research on another step. Obesity causes a higher level of sex hormones, insulin, inflammation and other growth hormones.

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