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Bispebjerg Hospital - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Birthweight, childhood overweight, height and growth and adult cancer risks: a review of studies using the Copenhagen School Health Records Register

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BACKGROUND: Most identified risk factors for cancer primarily occur in adulthood. As cancers generally have long latency periods, it is possible that risk factors acting earlier in life and accumulation of risks across the life course are important. Thus, focusing only on adult overweight as a modifiable risk factor may overlook childhood as an important aetiologic time window when body size is relevant for future cancer risks. The objective of this study was to review the evidence for associations between birthweight, body mass index (BMI), height and growth from 7-13 years and adult cancer risks based on studies using the Copenhagen School Health Records Register.

METHODS: The register contains measured anthropometric information on 372,636 children born in 1930-1989. All studies examining associations between early life body size and risks of adult cancer (until 85 years, diagnosed in 1968-2015) were included, comprising 31 studies on 16 different cancer sites. Cancer diagnoses were retrieved via individual-level linkages to the Danish Cancer Registry.

RESULTS: Birthweight was differentially associated with bladder, breast, colon, glioma, Hodgkin's disease, liver, kidney (renal cell), melanoma, ovarian, rectal, testicular and thyroid cancer. BMI in childhood was positively associated with risks of bladder (only late childhood), colon, endometrial, kidney, liver, oesophageal (only late childhood), ovarian, pancreatic (<70 years), prostate (only before childhood height adjustment) and thyroid cancer, whereas it was inversely associated with breast cancer. Child height was positively associated with breast, colon, endometrial, glioma, Hodgkin's disease, kidney, melanoma, oesophageal (only women), ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancer and inversely associated with bladder cancer. Greater than average increases in childhood BMI or linear growth at ages 7-13 increased risks of several cancers.

CONCLUSIONS: Early life body size and growth are associated with many, but not all adult cancers, suggesting that the aetiology of several cancers may lie earlier in life than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of obesity (2005)
Volume44
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1546-1560
Number of pages15
ISSN0307-0565
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

ID: 59202133