The Scary Reason Cancer is on the Rise in Young Adults

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If you are between ages 25 and 49, your risk of getting obesity-related cancer is rising, according to new research by the American Cancer Society.

The cancer-obesity threat isn’t going away any time soon, either.

“The fact that increases were mostly in obesity-related cancers is due to the obesity epidemic, and we would expect that the incidence would increases as this younger population ages,” lead researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal told U.S. & World News.

These findings have big implications for Latinos, who often struggle with weight and cancer already.

Study Findings

In the United States, the rate of obesity more than doubled between 1984 and 2014.

To study the link between obesity and cancer among young adults, the American Cancer Society scientists examined data from 25 state cancer registries that encompass 67% of the U.S. population. Of 30 common cancer types, 12 were obesity-related diagnosed from 1995-2014.

Obesity is already known to be linked to cancers of stomach, liver, breasts, ovaries and esophagus.

Incidence rate ratio by birth cohort from 1915 (1910–19) to 1985 (1980–89) for 12 obesity-related cancers, 1995–2014. Dots and shaded areas represent incidence rate ratios and 95% CIs for a given birth cohort relative to the 1950 birth cohort (1945–54; reference) for 15 partly overlapping 10-year birth cohorts. Photo: The Lancet Public Health

Cancers of the colon, gallbladder, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, and uterus had an increased incidence rate in young adults as well as incidence of multiple myeloma, a rare cancer that attacks the bone marrow.

“Although screening for most of these cancers isn’t available or useful for younger patients, colon cancer is an exception,” noted Jemal, as the screening age recommendation recently dropped from 50 to 45.

Latinos, Obesity & Cancer

Latinos historically & disproportionally face countless disparities in incidence and death rates of certain cancers, such as liver, cervical, and rare cancers, compared to their white peers.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, otherwise known as NASH, is another problem. NASH is a liver disease that stems from high-sugar, high fat diets, which could potentially lead to liver cancer, other diseases and death.

Furthermore, the incidence of pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is amassing among Mexican-American kids. 17% of U.S. children ages 2-19 are obese, and NASH incidence has doubled among U.S. adolescents in the last 30 years.

Latinos kids are also at a higher risk of dying from preventable and treatable cancers, due to socioeconomic disparities.

Latinos also tend to be a younger population with higher rates of obesity. They often struggle with local access to healthy food and safe places to play, according to a Salud America! research review.

Solutions to Combat Obesity-Related Cancers

1 in 12 U.S. cancer cases are caused by being overweight or obese. Excess weight causes diabetes and gallstones, which are associated with cancer as well as inflammation that fuels cancer cell growth.

There is a bright side. Researchers noted that obesity is one of the most preventable causes of cancer.

But it will take more than individual-level change.

“Changes have to happen at a societal level,” Elizabeth Platz, a cancer prevention scholar at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told U.S. & World News. “What this study is showing is that it’s generations of people.”

Want to make a healthy change in your community? Get inspired by our Salud Heroes:

Raheem Baraka – Health is a civil rights issue.

Latina helps bodegas push for healthier foods.

Latina Starts School Food Pantries. 

Cultivating health in a diverse neighborhood.

Abarrotes Bondadosa (Goodness Groceries).

Explore More:

Healthcare Access

By The Numbers By The Numbers

28

percent

of Latino kids suffer four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

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