Obesity-Related Cancers on Rise in Young Adults

Henrietta Brewer
February 6, 2019

Now, according to a latest study, obesity increases the risk of developing cancer in young adults.

But, for nearly all (16 out of 18) of the non-obesity related cancers (exception was gastric non-cardia cancer and leukaemia), cancers dropped or stabilized in successively younger generations - meaning the absolute risk of all cancers is lower for the youngest age groups.

"Further studies are needed to elucidate exposures responsible for these emerging trends, including excess body weight and other risk factors", concludes the team.

An analysis of millions of records covering health data from between 1995 and 2014 showed that the incidence rate of six out of 12 obesity-related cancers had increased, especially among people aged under 50 years.

The risk of colorectal, uterine corpus, pancreatic and gall bladder cancers in millennials is about double the rate baby boomers had at the same age, per the report. But a recent study has found that some types are increasing dramatically in young people.

Dr Ahmedin Jemal, from the American Cancer Society, said: 'Our findings expose a recent change that could serve as a warning of an increased burden of obesity-related cancers to come in older adults.

"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.

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. Obesity rates have more than doubled in the United States between 1984 and 2014.

The age category that experienced the greatest increase in frequency for four of the other five cancers was also those between 25 to 29. The results revealed a disturbing trend among adults in the age 24 to 49.

"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.

Incidence in young adults also increased for two cancers that aren't linked to obesity: gastrointestinal cancer and leukemia.

Obesity has already been linked to rising rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and knee replacements.

Fat cells, known as adiopose cells, do more than store excess calories in the body.

Rates of cancer are rising quicker in millennials because they're fatter than previous generations, scientists say.

One in 20 cases of cancer in the United Kingdom are linked to excess weight.

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

New Cancer Council Australia funded research has shown over 200,000 cancer cases could be avoided in Australia over the next 25 years if all Australian adults maintained a healthy weight and met the physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention. Obesity is among the most impactful of these.

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