Elevated leptin, high body mass index and a large waistline in men increases the risk of colon cancer, according to Michigan State University researchers.

Obesity is linked to various diseases including many forms of cancer. Researchers from Michigan State University found that obese men are also at a higher risk of developing colon cancer.

According to a press statement, elevated leptin, high body mass index and a large waistline in men are all factors that contribute to this increase in risk. The study was conducted on 126 healthy, white American males ranging from 48 to 65 years of age. They all underwent routine colonoscopies although they showed no signs of health issues.

"What we found is 78 percent of the 126 men in the study were either overweight or obese based on their BMI or waist circumference. Of those, about 30 percent were found to have more than one polyp after colonoscopies were performed," Jenifer Fenton, assistant professor and researcher in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, said in the statement. "In fact, the more obese participants were 6.5 times more likely to have three polyps compared to their thinner counterparts."

Obesity has rapidly become a serious health hazard; so much so that the American Medical Association has termed it as a disease rather than a disorder. Current statistics show that more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.

Colon cancer is the second highest cause of cancer-related deaths in America, an average person has a one in 20 chance of getting the illness, the Colon Cancer Alliance reported. Symptoms of early colon cancer include changes in bowel habits, blood in stool and narrow stools, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and nausea. Most colon cancer deaths occur in people over the age of 50, but there have been cases seen in almost every age group. The rate of deaths in people over 50 is declining, but an increasing amount of younger people have reported struggling with the cancer.

Previously, scientists in Scotland linked sugary snacks with colorectal cancer, along with the usual family history, smoking, and other lifestyle choices, according to BBC News.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and the MSU Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and published in the online journal PLOS ONE.