Young adult risk factors for cancer: Obesity, inflammation, and sociobehavioral mechanisms


Yang, Yang Claire; Johnson, Moira P.; Schorpp, Kristen M.; Boen, Courtney E.; & Harris, Kathleen Mullan (2017). Young adult risk factors for cancer: Obesity, inflammation, and sociobehavioral mechanisms. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. vol. 53 (3, Supplement 1) pp. S21-S29


INTRODUCTION: The paper assesses social disparities in the burdens of metabolic and inflammatory risks for cancer in the U.S. young adult population and examines psychosocial and behavioral mechanisms in such disparities. METHODS: Using data of 7,889 individuals aged 12-32 years from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health from 1994 to 2009, generalized linear models were used to assess the sex, race/ethnicity, and SES differences in the risks of obesity and inflammation, measured by C-reactive protein. Further tests examined the extent to which social isolation, smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, and illicit drug use explain social differentials in each biomarker outcome. RESULTS: Women, blacks, Hispanics, and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups had higher risks of obesity and elevated C-reactive protein, with the SES gradients being more pronounced in female participants. Health-related behaviors showed large variation across sex, race, and SES strata. After adjusting for these behavioral variables, sex, and race disparities in obesity and excess inflammation in blacks diminished, whereas the adolescent SES disparity in obesity remained. The associations of adolescent and young adult SES disadvantage and inflammation were also explained by behavioral mechanisms. Behavioral factors associated with higher risks of obesity and inflammation differed, with the exception of fast food consumption, a risk factor for both. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides new knowledge of social distribution of early life exposures to physiologic precedents to cancer development later in life with implications for prevention and early intervention of modifiable risky behaviors in adolescents and young adults.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine


Yang, Yang Claire
Johnson, Moira P.
Schorpp, Kristen M.
Boen, Courtney E.
Harris, Kathleen Mullan

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number

3, Supplement 1




August 14, 2017



Reference ID