MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Fenton: This was a cross-sectional study, and thus, a snapshot in time. Although it cannot infer cause or temporality of obesity and colon polyp risk in men, it does show that obese men were more likely to have a polyp than their lean counterpart. In addition, there were serum biomarkers also associated with this risk. This could eventually lead to future blood tests to identify individuals at greater risk for polyps and inform screening recommendations.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Fenton: My laboratory has previous research from cell culture and animal studies indicating that leptin, a hormone associated with obesity, promotes precancerous colon cells. We used the in vitro data as a basis to ask the question in humans. So, we did hypothesize these associations. However, we were amazed with the strength of the association in such a small study of being 6.5 times more likely to have a polyp in obese compared to lean individuals.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Fenton: Obesity is a risk factor for colon cancer and may also be a risk factor for polyp risk. Everyone should be encouraged to have their recommended screening at the correct age and interval to reduce their risk of colon cancer. These data suggest that it is particularly important for obese individuals to get a full colonoscopy at the recommended age and interval based on the result of their colonoscopy.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
- Dr. Fenton: These data were generated from a small pilot study in caucasian men in Michigan. While other studies support the observation in other populations, these data cannot be generalized until the results are confirmed in large prospective cohort studies. It is very important to understand whether polyps might be identified at a younger age or more advanced in obese individuals. That data could then lead to changes in screening recommendations in the future.
Adipokines and Obesity Are Associated with Colorectal Polyps in Adult Males: A Cross-Sectional Study
Sarah S. Comstock, Kari Hortos, Bruce Kovan, Sarah McCaskey, Dorothy R. Pathak, Jenifer I. Fenton
Published: January 17, 2014
PLoS DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085939