Obese children stand a greater risk of contracting cancer in adulthood, according to a newly released study by Tel Aviv University's Medical School.
While health experts blame obesity for a host of of medical conditions, primarily diabetes, heart disease and asthma, the study concludes that it is also a major factor causing cancer.
Jointly conducted with the Israeli army's Medical Corps, the study analyzed the data of 1.1 million male soldiers -- collected and monitored over a period of 18 years.
The findings, released Wednesday, are unequivocal: troops who were in the upper 15 percent of the body mass index as children and adolescents had a 42 percent higher chance of developing bladder or colorectal cancer as adults.
To date, tobacco smoking has been the main known contributor to the former type of cancer, while excessive consumption of red meat and alcohol, as well as lack of physical exercise, old age and genetics are considered the leading risk factors for the latter.
Dr. Arie Shamis, who led the study on behalf of TAU, said additional research will most likely reveal a correlation between childhood obesity and other types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer.
"Another critical question that remains open is whether weight loss can lower the child's chance of incurring cancer in the future," Shamis told the Ma'ariv daily.
Obesity is fast becoming a global epidemic. Shamis noted that nearly one in three children in the United States are overweight or obese, citing statistics compiled by the American Society for Preventive Cardiology.