There is yet another reason to be worried about the spread of obesity among India’s children. New research suggests that being overweight in adolescence increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in later life fourfold.
Even being overweight or the heavier end of the normal weight range could elevate pancreatic cancer risk in men, the research published in the journal Cancer states. Researchers studied the pancreatic cancer incidence among 1.087 million men and 707,212 women in Israel. Among those studied, obesity during youth was estimated to account for eleven percent of pancreatic cancer cases.
Pancreatic cancer made headlines in India recently after it was announced that India’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar succumbed to the disease. After months of speculation about his health, it was also recently that confirmed that Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar is suffering from the disease. Both cases shed light on one of the deadliest types of cancer worldwide. However, its impact in India is rarely acknowledged.
“1.5 percent of Indians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in their lifetime”
Estimates suggest pancreatic cancer affects between 0.5 and 2.4 out of every 100,000 men and 0.2 and 1.8 out of every 100,000 women in India. 1.5 percent of Indians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in their lifetime.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect in its early stages as it tends not to present with symptoms until it becomes more advanced. Survival rates for the condition are low as it spreads quickly and has a high likelihood of recurrence.
Reports that adolescent obesity heightens risk of developing the disease is concerning news for India, where 14.4 million children suffer from obesity. Pancreatic cancer is already on the rise in India. It ranks as the eleventh most common form of cancer in the country. With growing numbers of obese adolescents in India, prevalence of the disease may increase even further in future.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking and consuming a high-fat diet. Modifying these behaviours can help reduce risk of developing the disease. A family history of the disease and presenting with conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, and hepatitis B also increase risk.
Awareness of these risk factors and efforts to encourage people to change their lifestyles accordingly could go some way to lessening India’s pancreatic cancer burden. However, overcoming difficulties in diagnosing the disease in its earlier and more treatable stage will continue to make tackling it a challenge.