Body fatness at adolescence, adult attained height and the development of tumours among persons with Lynch syndrome

This study investigated the role of body fatness at adolescence and height on the occurrence of cancer among people with Lynch syndrome in a large international study

  • Topic: Combination of cancers
  • Institution: Wageningen University and Research Centre
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Status: Completed
Researcher: Fränzel van Duijnhoven


People with Lynch syndrome (LS) have an inherited mutation in their genes, which results in a substantial increased lifetime risk of cancer. They are mainly at risk of colorectal or endometrial cancers, but also cancers of the ovaries, stomach, small bowel, pancreas, urinary tract, brain and possibly breast.

Many of these types of cancer are associated with greater body fatness and probably/convincingly with height in the general population. The influence of these factors on cancer risk may already start during childhood and adolescence.

Aims and objectives

We studied the effect of weight and height on cancer in people with LS when they were 18–20 years old.

How the study was done

We looked at over 2,000 people with LS and obtained information on their lifestyle and health factors, such as weight at 18 years old and height, smoking, medication use and physical activity. The effect of BMI at age 18–20 and height on the occurrence of bowel, endometrial and overall cancer was analysed using statistical methods.


Being taller was not associated with bowel or endometrial cancer for people with LS. A higher BMI in young adulthood was associated with an increased risk of cancer for women, but not for men with LS. Apart from a potentially higher likelihood of smoking cessation, no evidence was found that a bowel tumour diagnosis is associated with changes in lifestyle habits for people with LS.

The results of this project add to the information regarding lifestyle factors and the risk of cancer for people with LS. Although the results of this project did not directly lead to LS-specific cancer prevention recommendations, it does suggest that lifestyle factors may also be important in people with LS.