Obesity Could Be
Best Guideline for Colon Cancer Screening in Men
Obesity is a known
risk factor for many cancers including colon cancer
Feb. 4, 2014 Most
health screening guidelines are based on age. Current guidelines for
colon cancer say
regular screening should begin at age 50 and continue through age 75. A
new study, however, says at least for men obesity may be a better
guide to which men should be tested.
The Michigan State
University study has shown that elevated leptin a fat hormone higher
body mass index and a larger waistline in men is associated with a
greater likelihood of having colorectal polyps, precancerous growths
linked to colon cancer.
The result may put
men at an even greater risk of the disease and also may mean their body
weight could eventually be a deciding factor in whether a colonoscopy is
in their future. Today, age and family history typically dictate a
assistant professor and researcher in the Department of Food Science and
Human Nutrition, and Kari Hortos, associate dean in MSU's College of
Osteopathic Medicine at the Macomb University Center, led the 18-month,
cross-sectional study, which followed 126 healthy, white American males
ranging from 48 to 65 years of age. Participants showed no signs or
symptoms of health issues, yet underwent routine colonoscopies.
"What we found is 78
percent of the 126 men in the study were either overweight or obese
based on their BMI or waist circumference. Of those, about 30 percent
were found to have more than one polyp after colonoscopies were
performed," said Fenton. "In fact, the more obese participants were 6.5
times more likely to have three polyps compared to their thinner
Sarah Comstock, a
co-author of the study and research fellow in the Department of Food
Science and Human Nutrition, also indicated that the significance of the
research is twofold.
"Not only does it
show the association that leptin and a higher BMI have with colon
polyps, but it gives us a better snapshot on how body weight and other
factors may actually help us determine who might be at a higher risk of
developing polyps," she said.
With obesity rates
climbing during the past 20 years within the United States and colon
cancer being the second-leading killer of men and women in the nation,
these facts compelled Fenton and her team to conduct research which
could identify the specific biomarkers of obesity and early-stage colon
cancer and help in prevention efforts.
published by Fenton in 2009 identified the connection between obesity
and colon cancer through examining tissue hormones. These studies
demonstrated that, at higher levels, leptin worked as a primary
mechanism in inducing precancerous colon cells by increasing the blood
supply to them and promoting their progression.
"Even with all of
our research, there's still more to be done, particularly in larger,
more diverse populations, before any changes in screening
recommendations can be made," said Fenton. "But we've definitely got a
The study was
recently published in the online journal PLOS ONE.
The research was
funded by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of
Health and the MSU Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. The
pilot study was conducted at Tri-County Gastroenterology, a
community-based clinic in Michigan, and was a collaboration between
other MSU researchers and physicians including Bruce Kovan, assistant
clinical professor with the College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Dorothy
Pathak, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.
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