Obesity during childhood is associated with higher cancer mortality rate during adulthood: the i3C Consortium

Joel Nuotio, Tomi T. Laitinen, Alan R. Sinaiko, Jessica G. Woo, Elaine M. Urbina, David R. Jacobs, Julia Steinberger, Ronald J. Prineas, Matthew A. Sabin, David P. Burgner, Heikki Minn, Trudy L. Burns, Lydia A. Bazzano, Alison J. Venn, Jorma S.A. Viikari, Nina Hutri-Kähönen, Stephen R. Daniels, Olli T. Raitakari, Costan G. Magnussen, Markus JuonalaTerence Dwyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background: In high-income countries, cancer is the leading cause of death among middle-aged adults. Prospective data on the effects of childhood risk exposures on subsequent cancer mortality are scarce. Methods: We examined whether childhood body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose and lipid levels were associated with adult cancer mortality, using data from 21,012 children enrolled aged 3–19 years in seven prospective cohort studies from the U.S., Australia, and Finland that have followed participants from childhood into adulthood. Cancer mortality (cancer as a primary or secondary cause of death) was captured using registries. Results: 354 cancer deaths occurred over the follow-up. In age-, sex, and cohort-adjusted analyses, childhood BMI (Hazard ratio [HR], 1.13; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03–1.24 per 1-SD increase) and childhood glucose (HR 1.22; 95%CI 1.01–1.47 per 1-SD increase), were associated with subsequent cancer mortality. In a multivariable analysis adjusted for age, sex, cohort, and childhood measures of fasting glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and systolic blood pressure, childhood BMI remained as an independent predictor of subsequent cancer mortality (HR, 1.24; 95%CI, 1.03–1.49). The association of childhood BMI and subsequent cancer mortality persisted after adjustment for adulthood BMI (HR for childhood BMI, 1.35; 95%CI 1.12–1.63). Conclusions: Higher childhood BMI was independently associated with increased overall cancer mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-399
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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