Colorectal cancer rates dramatically rise among millennials, Gen X

A new study has confirmed that colon and rectal cancer rates are rising sharply among young and middle-aged people in the US over the past four decades.

Colorectal cancer rates dramatically rise among millennials, Gen X

Researchers from the American Cancer Society also discovered that rates have declined for adults 55 and older, prompting questions whether screening should be conducted earlier.

In the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, it was found that colon cancer rates rose by 1 to 2 percent per year for people in their 20s and 30s between the mid-1980s and 2013. Meanwhile, rates for middle-aged adults increased at a slower pace.

In recent decades, rectal cancer rates have surged at approximately 3% per year for people in their 20s and 30s. A rise of 2% was observed among people ages 40 to 54.

This means someone born in 1990 has double the risk of getting early colon cancer and quadruple the probability of getting early rectal cancer compared to someone born in 1950. Researchers believe that Millennials and Generation X adults “will carry that risk forward” as they get old.

Lead researcher Rebecca Siegel said: “Colorectal cancer had been thought a success story. But it appears that under the surface, the underlying risk for colorectal cancer is rising, and it is rising pretty quickly among young adults.”

Scientists are yet to identify the exact cause but prime culprits include poor diets, obesity and inactivity.

Currently, no health group recommends screening tests like colonoscopies and stool testing for average-risk young adults. While all screening tests have benefits, they also come with potential harms, according to Siegel.

Testing usually starts at age 50 but the American Cancer Society will look at whether this should be modified.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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