Height and Weight linked to Cancer?
Surprised? Well, rightly read! Generally, height and weight are the first two attributes which knowingly or unknowingly, are either monitored or looked upon when we meet or interact with someone. Tall statured people are perceived to be impressive with their heights, making the ones with stunted height usually feel inferior. Also, the prevalent crisis faced by all, especially the current generation – obesity, either fuels up the chances of diseases and disorders in body or worsens the symptoms of any existing ailment. Obesity, an already known factor to increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; along with excessive height, can they be responsible for development of cancers?
Sounds absurd, as how can a widely perceived societal notion of possessing a tall height and providing excessive nutrition for your kids can trigger the onset of a deadly disease with no cure? Scientists claim that excessive height and nutrition during childhood may initiate the development of cancers like Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma..what is it?
White blood cells or lymphocytes are made in the lymphatic system and being an important part of our immune system, they aid to fight any infiltrative foreign particles or pathogens, be it virus or bacteria; or any impending infection. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of lymphocytes wherein there is an abnormal growth, division and proliferation of three types of lymphocytes: B and T lymphocytes, and natural killer (NK) cells.
Usually, lymphocytes have a predictable life-cycle where old cells die and new ones are produced to replace them. In Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, old cells don’t die but keep growing and dividing, thereby creating an oversupply of lymphocytes aka ‘fighter’ cells, thus crowding the lymph nodes causing them to swell. Till date, doctors aren’t sure what causes this cancer. It is either indolent or aggressive and has many different types which are diagnosed by varied microscopic appearance and biological characterisations of malignant lymphocytes.
Obesity, Tall Height & Lymphoma: Where’s the link?
A recent study led by Dr. M. Leiba and her team at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center examined the height and weight of 2 million adolescents aged 16 to 19 years from 1967-2011; and 4000 cases of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were found till 2012 since 1967.
It is estimated that the obese are on a 25% increased risk of acquiring Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma later in life as compared to those with normal weight. Similarly, shorter individuals were seen with 25% reduced risk of developing this condition in future, while the tallest were at 28% increased risk of acquiring the same. Researchers found that obesity and a too tall stature during adolescence affect inflammatory molecules and growth factors that support the development of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, an accurate mechanism of how these attributes in childhood transpire this condition requires further detailed research.
Timely diagnosis: A stitch in time saves nine!
Know the levels of biomarkers going haywire because of obesity by seeking timely medical help. Make preventive healthcare a priority today; get yourself tested for the presence or elevation of any cancer marker levels. After all, it goes without saying, an early diagnosis aids in better prognosis and treatment.
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