Alarming rise in obesity-related cancers in young people

In a sweeping study covering two-thirds of the US population researchers showed that half a dozen cancers for which obesity is a known risk factor became more frequent from 1995 to 2015 among women and men under 50

"Most cancers occur in older adults, which means that as the young people in our study age, the burden of obesity-related cancer cases and deaths are likely to increase even more".

Obese people will not definitely develop cancer but they are at a higher risk than people who are a healthy weight.

Most epidemiological studies have focused on older populations so the effect on cancer risk of excess bodyweight in early life, or of weight gain in young adulthood, is not well understood. The investigators looked at 30 of the most common cancer types, including 12 obesity-related cancers, diagnosed from 1995 through 2014. This was true for half of the 12 cancers classified as related to obesity: colorectal, uterine corpus, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic, and multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer).

A study conducted by the American Cancer Society has found that the incidence of obesity-related cancers in the USA is rising faster among millennials than it is among older age groups.

"Although the absolute risk of these cancers is small in younger adults, these findings have important public health implications", Ahmedin, senior author of the paper, said in a statement. Especially striking was the rising rate of kidney cancers.

Researchers said the findings, published in The Lancet Public Health journal on World Cancer Day, suggested the trends could halt or reverse decades of progress achieved in lowering cancer mortality.

Millennials - people born in the 1980s or '90s - have double the risk of some types of cancers compared with the rates baby boomers experienced at that age, according to the American Cancer Society.

The average annual percentage change in pancreatic cancer incidence increased with decreasing age, from 0.77% for those aged between 45 and 49 to 4.34% for those aged between 25 and 29.

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The survey revealed that the obesity-linked cancers in young adults have been on the rise between 1995 and 2015, affecting both women and men, nearly equally.

"Similarly, the annual percent change by age was largest in individuals aged 25-29 years for cancers of the kidney, gallbladder, corpus uteri, and colorectum, and in individuals aged 30-34 years for multiple myeloma", the authors wrote in the study.

The rate of six of the 12 cancers linked to obesity are rising at a much faster rate among 25 to 49 year olds than in older age groups, according research into United States patients.

"The lesson we've learned from other cancers is if steps aren't taken to stop the things causing those trends, then they will continue to get higher", Schwartz says. Others studies show the location of fat - such as fat in the abdomen - may impact cancer risk.

Excess weight may promote cancer in several ways.

According to a report by the ACS, being overweight or obese is linked to many types of cancers.

As for gastrointestinal cancer and leukemia, the researchers hypothesize that increases in autoimmune disease, antibiotic use, and exposure to environmental carcinogens may be to blame. Obesity is among the most impactful of these.

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