Obese young men more likely to suffer liver disease or cancer

Charles M. O'Connor

As the pounds continue to pile on, so do the studies tying obesity to cancer and other illnesses. Most recently, a Swedish study found that overweight young men ages 18 or 19 had a 50 percent greater risk of developing liver disease than their normal weight counterparts. Worse yet, those who went on to develop type 2 diabetes tripled their risk.

The mammoth research project included 1.2 million Swedish males conscripted into the military between 1969 and 1996 (representing 97% of military-aged males in that country) and followed them for nearly three decades. During that timeframe, nearly 5,300 men developed serious liver disease, including 251 cases of liver cancer.

The study was led by Dr. Hannes Hagström of the Center for Digestive Diseases at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. Hagstrom and his fellow researchers noted that the findings underscore the need to address obesity at an early age to reduce the future burden of severe liver disease on individuals and society.

Closer to home, Dr. David Bernstein, a liver specialist and chief of hepatology at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, said: “This should be a wake-up call for young men to take their weight seriously and take steps to stay in shape to hopefully prevent liver disease, diabetes and liver cancer in the future.”

This research echoes what we’re seeing at Gastrointestinal Associates in Knoxville. We’ve been caring for our patients’ digestive health since 1971 and have seen firsthand the health consequences of carrying too much weight: coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones and an increased risk of colon and other cancers. As this research demonstrates, obesity also increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a leading cause of cirrhosis and a common indication for liver transplantation, as well as liver cancer.

This study is yet another indicator that maintaining proper weight is important to overall good health. If you’re overweight, we encourage you to talk with your physician about a weight loss method that would best suit you.

If you’d like to learn more about GIA 180, our comprehensive weight loss program designed to work with patients to reach a healthy weight in a healthy way, click here or call 865-558-0601.