Some Cancers Are Rising in Young People. Scientists Think They Know Why
Some Cancers Are Rising in Young People. Scientists Think They Know Why
Obesity could be leading to a rise in cancer rates
06 February, 2019, 14:26
A newstudy finds rates are increasing for six of 12 cancersrelated to obesity in younger adults in the United States, with steeper increases in progressively younger ages and successively younger generations.
The American Cancer Society study, which used data covering half the USA population, found that six cancers known to be related to obesity were rising fastest among those under 50.
The researchers found that rates of six obesity-related cancers - colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic, and thyroid - increased among adults ages 25 to 49 during the study period.
"The quality of the American diet has worsened in recent decades", said lead author Hyuna Sung, also of the American Cancer Society.
Several years ago, the authors of the current study identified increases in early onset colorectal cancer in the US, a trend that has been observed in several high-income countries and could partly reflect the obesity epidemic. They looked at the rates of 30 different cancers, including the 12 obesity-related cancers, and 18 other cancers that have not been tied to obesity, such as lung and skin cancer. Read the full story from Axios. For example, around two pancreatic cancer cases were diagnosed in every 100,000 25-49 year-old persons per year between 2010-2014, compared with around 37 in every 100,000 50-84 year olds . The analysis found the average annual increase for pancreatic cancer was 4.34% for ages 25 to 29, 2.47% in people aged 30 to 34, 1.31% for those in the 35 to 39 age bracket, and only 0.72% in those aged 40 to 44 years. Of course, obesity is only one factor - the environment, genetics and other issues also play roles, the BBC points out.
It's not possible to definitively attribute the recent cancer increases to obesity - but the new report notes that the upticks in cancer for young people coincided with a doubling in rates of childhood and adolescent obesity between 1980 and 2014, making weight a likely contributor.
The younger the age bracket, the more quickly these cancers gained ground, they reported in The Lancet, the medical journal.
According to a report by the ACS, being overweight or obese is linked to many types of cancers.
"Yet, I think the public in general doesn't even know that obesity is associated with cancer", said Case Western Reserve University oncologist Dr. Nathan Berger, who was not associated with the American Cancer Society study.
It was conducted by researchers from Surveillance and Health Services Research Program at the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
Obesity is now one of the most preventable causes of cancer, responsible for around one in 20 cases in the United Kingdom and one in 12 in the US.
"Further studies are needed to elucidate exposures responsible for these emerging trends, including excess body weight and other risk factors", concludes the team.
The current study did not include data on obesity and can only infer a link between obesity and rising cancer rates, says Schwartz.
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