A recent study saw that body mass index in children was positively associated with bladder cancer development later in life. Urothelial bladder cancer (UBC) is the sixth most common cancer in the world, despite the fact that there is very little routine screening; screening tests are only performed in response to presentation of symptoms.
Research into risk factors found that a high BMI, a short height, excess BMI gain in childhood, and low and high birth weights are associated with increased risk of bladder cancer.
The occurrence of bladder cancer is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, which is why it was important to investigate the potential associations between birth weight, childhood body size, and bladder cancer. Research in this area, however, is scarce.
In the latest study out of Denmark, an extremely large sample size and various measures were used in order to prevent the influence of confounding variables. This improved the strength and validity of the study. However, this study–as well as those that preceded it–failed to account for environmental and socioeconomic factors that have an impact on height and BMI. The study did find that childhood BMI is positively associated with risk of bladder cancer in adulthood and that childhood height is inversely associated with risks of bladder cancer in adulthood.
Moreover, children who increase more than average in BMI from ages 7–13 years have an increased risk of bladder cancer, while above average height growth at these ages was not statistically significantly associated with bladder cancer. There were no sex differences noted.
Lastly, individuals with a low or high birth weight had an increased risk of bladder cancer. Although the absolute risk of bladder cancer is low, the results of this important study contribute to the understanding of how body size early in life may indicate a risk for this disease.
Given the personal and economic impact of bladder cancer, the results highlight that new insights into the causes of this disease may be gained through further explorations of factors and mechanisms early in life. The authors write that “although the absolute risk of bladder cancer is low, our results contribute to the understanding of how body size early in life may indicate a risk for this disease.”
Overweight or obesity in adult life and taller heights are consistently linked to a variety of forms of cancer. Because bladder cancer may have a long latency period, understanding the relationship between childhood BMI and bladder cancer can further improve detection, screening, and intervention.
- Obesity and Risk of Bladder Cancer: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of 15 Cohort Studies
- Shedding Light on Bladder Cancer Diagnosis in Urine | HTML
- Full article: Early life body size and its associations with adult bladder cancer
- Diet and Cancer Report – WCRF International
- High BMI in Childhood May Up Risk for Bladder Cancer as Adult | Physician’s Weekly
- Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood and adolescent body-mass index, weight, and height from 1953 to 2015: an analysis of four longitudinal, observational, British birth cohort studies