Childhood obesity and subsequent esophageal cancer risk

Dr. Petrick and colleagues reported on childhood obesity and subsequent risk of esophageal and gastric cancer in over 60,000 young Danish men. This is one of the first studies that indicate that reduction in obesity between childhood and adulthood may reduce subsequent risk.

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 Aug 5. doi: 10.1002/oby.22570. [Epub ahead of print]

Overweight Patterns Between Childhood and Early Adulthood and Esophageal and Gastric Cardia Adenocarcinoma Risk.

Petrick JL, Jensen BW, Sørensen TIA, Cook MB, Baker JL.



Esophageal  adenocarcinoma (EA) and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA) are among  the most rapidly increasing cancers in Western countries. Elevated BMI  in adulthood is a known risk factor, but associations in early life are  unclear.


This study assessed weight change  between childhood and early adulthood in relation to EA/GCA. Measured  weights and heights during childhood (7-13 years) and early adulthood  (17-26 years) were available for 64,695 young men from the Copenhagen  School Health Records Register and the Danish Conscription Database.  Individuals were categorized as having normal weight or overweight.  Linkage with the Danish Cancer Registry identified 275 EA/GCA cases.  Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% CI were estimated using Cox proportional  hazards regression.


The risk of EA/GCA was 2.5  times higher in men who were first classified as having overweight at  age 7 (HR = 2.49; 95% CI: 1.50-4.14) compared with men who were never  classified as having overweight. Men who had persistent overweight at  ages 7 and 13 and in early adulthood had an EA/GCA risk that was 3.2  times higher (HR = 3.18; 95% CI: 1.57-6.44). However, there was little  evidence of increased EA/GCA risk for men with overweight during  childhood and subsequent remittance by early adulthood.


Persistent overweight in early life is associated with increased EA/GCA risk, which declines if body weight is reduced.

This website contains a curated and opinionated look at recent literature regarding the epidemiology and prevention of esophageal cancer, with an emphasis on esophageal adenocarcinoma. It is developed by Thomas L Vaughan MD, MPH, who can be reached with questions or suggestions through email or his research website.
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