The burden of the disease is shifting to younger generations — and puzzling researchers.
By Julia Belluz@email@example.com Oct 11, 2018, 12:30pm EDT
Image: A micrograph of colon cancer cells. Overall, those born in 1990 have double the risk of developing colon cancer and four times the risk of getting rectal cancer compared to those born around 1950. Getty Images
The American Cancer Society’s research in 2017 showed colorectal cancer was increasing for people in their20s and 30s – it increased 1 to 2 percent between the mid-1990s to 2013. For those born in 1990 they have twice the risk of developing colon cancer and four times the risk of getting rectal cancer compared to those born around 1950.
A recent JAMA study found a link between a higher body weight, particularly obesity, and a greater risk of colorectal cancer. This study looked at 85,000 women aged 25 to 42 and found that people with obesity (a BMI of 30) had nearly double the risk of early-onset colorectal cancer compared with women in the normal BMI range (18.5 to 22.9). See WeightDrive for more information on this.
However, it’s also true that there is a strong link between Western-style, pro-inflammatory diets (heavy in processed meat, red meat, sugary beverages, and refined grains) and a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Obese people in the Western world probably just eat more of this food. So obesity probably isn’t the only answer, as many of the young colorectal cancer patients were fit and active. More on this in FuelDrive.
It’s certainly true that many forms of cancer are increasing, and this seems to indicate that obesity and diet are both contributory factors.