Skip to content

Adolescent Obesity May Increase Colorectal Cancer Risk

Childhood obesity rates in the United States are reaching all-time-high levels. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 17 percent of children in the US are obese. This equates to 12.7 million children and adolescents. A recent study has found that childhood obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing colon cancer in adulthood

Study Methods & Results

The study was analyzed by Zohar Levi, MD and his colleagues at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The study utilized information from approximately 1.8 Israeli citizens who underwent health examinations, including a body mass index (BMI) check. The research was conducted from 1967 to 2012. The study data was as follows:


  • 1,087,358 males studied
  • 1,977 instances of colorectal cancer
    • 1,403 colon cancer
    • 574 rectal cancer
  • 53% higher risk of colon cancer in obese patients.


  • 707,212 females studied
  • 990 instances of colorectal cancer
    • 764 colon cancer
    • 226 rectal cancer
  • 54% higher risk of colon cancer in obese patients.

The study found that the average age of diagnosis of colorectal cancer was 49.4 years of age. The study lacked data on diet, physical activity, and smoking habits, but the data was still significant enough to show a correlation, at the very least, between obesity in adolescence and colorectal cancer. 

Colon cancer screening in Tacoma, WAChange Children’s Habits to Prevent Colon Cancer

If an adolescent is overweight or obese, it isn’t too late to improve their health. The increased risk of colorectal cancer is most likely caused by years of poor eating habits and low levels of physical activity. In order to improve this situation, it is important that teenagers:

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that can help prevent cancer. 
  • Exercise five days a week. 30 minutes of exercise per session is optimal. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, sports, swimming, walking a dog, or anything else that gets the child up and moving all count!
  • Quit smoking. Cigarettes can lead to a long list of other health issues in addition to increased risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Once the weight is off, keep it off. Improving one’s health should be a life-long goal. If the child loses the weight but gains it back later, they may still be at-risk for health issues. 

If you have questions about your colorectal health, or if you would like to make an appointment in Tacoma, WA, please call Northwest Medical Specialties at (253) 428-8700. 


HEALTH ALERT! For the safety of our patients and staff only patients will be allowed into our clinics and everyone MUST wear a mask. See additional information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


November 16, 2020 Update

During these difficult times we are making every effort to keep our patients and staff safe from COVID 19, we appreciate your patience and understanding with the changes you may have seen within our practice.

We strive to protect our patients and staff as much as we possibly can from any exposure on our premises.  NWMS has implemented a system wide policy that does not allow anyone in the building that is not a patient and everyone must wear an NWMS provided mask over their mouth and nose during their time on our premises.  This is to protect our vulnerable patients from the unforeseen possibility of exposure to COVID 19 which can be transmitted through aerosol droplets.  Sadly, we have had patients that have died from the complications of COVID 19, which is both devastating and preventable.

We offer a virtual visit option for family, friends, and companions to participate in the care of our patients through Zoom.  Our staff will assist you with every step of the login process and invite you to participate in real time from your vehicle or designated safe space in our building. Please contact us at 253-428-8700 to set this up.

The following offices are temporarily closed:

  • Bonney Lake
  • Federal Way

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please make sure to contact us via phone prior to your appointment. You may also contact us for any additional questions by calling our office at (253) 428-8700.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control