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Weight and Height During Adolescence May Impact Future Risk of Developing Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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Key Points

  • Adolescent overweight and obesity were associated with a 25% increased risk of NHL in later life.
  • When compared with the midrange height category, shorter individuals had a 25% reduced risk of NHL, whereas the tallest individuals had a 28% increased risk.
  • Excess height and weight were responsible for 6% and 3% of all NHL cases, respectively.

A new analysis indicates that higher body weight and taller stature during adolescence increase the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The findings were published by Leiba et al in Cancer.

Rates of NHL have increased worldwide, and research suggests that rising rates of obesity may be contributing to this trend. With this in mind, a team led by Merav Leiba, MD, of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, examined whether adolescent weight and height might be associated with the risk of developing NHL later in life. The study included 2,352,988 teens aged 16 to 19 years who were examined between 1967 and 2011. Their information was linked to the Israel National Cancer Registry, which included 4,021 cases of NHL from 1967 through 2012.

Major Findings

Adolescent overweight and obesity were associated with a 25% increased risk of NHL in later life compared with normal weight, and there was an association for multiple subtypes of NHL. “Obesity and overweight during adolescence are risk factors for future non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” said Dr. Leiba. “It is important to be aware that overweight and obesity are not risk factors only for diabetes and cardiovascular disease but also for lymphomas.”

There was also a stepwise gradient in NHL risk with increasing height. When compared with the midrange height category, shorter individuals had a 25% reduced risk of NHL, whereas the tallest individuals had a 28% increased risk. In the end, excess height and weight were responsible for 6% and 3% of all NHL cases, respectively. As for mechanism, height and excess nutrition in childhood may have impacts on inflammatory molecules and growth factors that could support the development of NHL, but additional studies are needed to investigate these possibilities.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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