Some Cancers Are Rising in Millennials. Obesity Might Be Why

Faith Castro
February 6, 2019

Such a discovery could negate our own recent advances in treating cancers but until the NHS seriously begins to screen for obesity, as recommended by the study's authors, we may not know. Separating data into five-year age cohorts, they found that incidence of six cancers - colorectal, endometrial, multiple myeloma, gall bladder, kidney and pancreas - out of the 12 related to obesity in adults between the ages of 25 and 49 increased significantly between 1995 to 2014. Sharper rises were observed among successively younger generations and particularly among millennials (in their 20s and 30s). The researchers warned that the risk of getting these diseases rises as people gain more weight.

Increasing obesity rates among young people mean that the risk of cancer is rising for millennials, according to an American study.

In contrast, rates in successive younger age brackets declined or stabilized in all but two of 18 non-obesity related cancers, including smoking-related and infection-related cancers.

According to the researchers, the growing obesity epidemic in the United States could be influencing the trends identified in the study.

Researchers analyzed 20 years of incidence data for 30 cancers - 12 of which are associated with obesity and excess body weight - among adults ages 25 to 84 in 25 states from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries' Cancer in North America database.

Obesity has already been linked to rising rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and knee replacements. Of course, obesity is only one factor - the environment, genetics and other issues also play roles, the BBC points out.

"Younger generations are experiencing earlier and longer-lasting exposure to excess fat and to obesity-related health conditions that can increase cancer risk", Jemal said.

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Two thirds of Britons are now overweight and more than a quarter of the population is obese.

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.

"In the lead up to the next federal election, both sides of politics need to recognise their responsibility to help protect children from mass marketing of junk food; improve the Health Star Rating food labelling system to provide simpler, more informed choices to consumers; and promote more public education about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise". British obesity rates are not far behind the US. Additional experimental and population-based studies will be needed to test the hypothesis more directly.

"The quality of the American diet has worsened in recent decades", said lead author Hyuna Sung, also of the American Cancer Society.

[1] Quote direct from author and can not be found in the text of the Article. They looked at 30 types of cancers, including 12 that are considered obesity-related.

Professor Aranda explained that individuals can also take steps to reduce their risk of lifestyle-related cancers.

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