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Is There a Link Between Adolescent Weight and Risk of Papillary Thyroid Cancer?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Patients who were overweight or obese as adolescents may have an increased risk of developing papillary thyroid cancer in adulthood. In collaboration with her colleagues, Sue K. Park, MD, PhD, of Seoul National University College of Medicine, published this work in Scientific Reports.

“The results of the present study provide additional evidence that public health concerns and policy intervention are needed for weight management in adolescence to decrease the papillary thyroid carcinoma risk,” concluded the authors.

This case-control study identified patients with thyroid cancer who were admitted to Seoul National University Hospital between 2010 and 2013. A total of 1,549 patients were identified to serve as the case group along with 15,490 patients who served as the control group, as they had no history of cancer or thyroid disease. Study participants were questioned about their weight at age 18, and their current weight and height was measured at study enrollment.

Patients who had a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 25 kg/m2 at age 18 had a higher risk of developing papillary thyroid cancer compared with patients who had a BMI of less than 23 kg/m2 (odds ratio = 4.31). This association between BMI and development of thyroid cancer appeared to be stronger among males than females, with odds ratios of 6.65 and 3.49, respectively. In addition, the association between having a high BMI at age 18 and developing thyroid cancer was strongest among individuals with a current BMI of more than 25 kg/m2 (hazard ratio = 8.21).

Furthermore, among patients with papillary thyroid cancer, a BMI over 25 kg/m2 at age 18 was linked to extrathyroidal extension and T stage of greater than 2. However, a high BMI was not associated with an N stage of greater than one or BRAF V600E mutation.

Disclosure: The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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