Intended for healthcare professionals


Height, early energy intake, and cancer

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1331

Evidence mounts for the relation of energy intake to adult malignancies

  1. Demetrius Albanes, Senior investigator
  1. Cancer Prevention Studies Branch, Division of Clinical Sciences, National Cancer Institute, 321, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892-7058, USA

    Papers pp 1350, 1351

    Study of the relation between human body size and cancer risk has its origins in both human observational studies and animal experiments. In his late 19th century treatise Air, Food, and Exercises based on observations in England and continental Europe Rabagliatti concluded, “Overfeeding is the predisposing cause of cancer.”1Since then the restriction of total energy intake has been shown over decades of research to be one of the most powerful nutritional interventions capable of lowering cancer rates in laboratory animals—and the only factor known actually to increase lifespan in these same systems. 2 3Such rodent experiments resulted in lighter, leaner animals—that is, with decreased body weight and adiposity—and in many instances, depending on the timing of the energy restriction, stunted growth and shortened overall animal length. Although lifelong dietary restriction has had the greatest impact, reduced food consumption early during development also effectively inhibits tumorigenesis.3Human data are available from epidemiological studies of the relation between energy intake, body size, and cancer rates or risk. In these, overweight and …

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