Cancer Fueled by Obesity On Rise in Millennials

'Shocking' rise in obesity-related cancers among young adults

'Shocking' rise in obesity-related cancers among young adults

Because the database does not include details on obesity and other risk factors nor mode of detection for the cancer diagnosis statistics, the results do not provide sufficient information to determine a causal relationship, according to the study.

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

Still unexplained, however, is why the six other forms of cancer classified by the UN's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as related to obesity did not also show similar rates of increase among younger adults.

These included multiple myeloma, colorectal, uterine corpus, gallbladder, kidney and pancreatic cancers. While the researchers also found an increase in the number of new cases among baby boomers (people over the age of 50), the rise was not as steep or significant.

Researchers found that if all Australian adults maintained a healthy weight, as many as 190,500 overweight/obesity-related cancers could be prevented over a 25-year period.

Lead author Dr Hyuna Sung of the American Cancer Society, USA, says: "Obesity is associated with health conditions that can contribute to the risk of cancer". He points out that five of the six cancers on the rise in younger adults - colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreatic cancer - are treated surgically.

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.

For example, the average annual increase for pancreatic cancer was more than four percent for patients ranging in age from 25 to 29, but less than one percent for those age 40 to 44.

The younger the age group, the greater the size of the increase in all seven of the cancer types except for thyroid cancer.

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

This suggests that further epidemiological studies monitoring the trends in cancer incidence among younger adults could be beneficial. Obesity often leads to cancer in older adults, but now it has increased in young adults.

Over the past few decades, scientists have uncovered an increasing body of evidence linking obesity to the development of certain cancer types.

Although screening for most of these cancers isn't available or useful for younger patients, colon cancer is an exception, Jemal said.

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO Cancer Council Australia said, "With more than two thirds of adults considered overweight or obese, and almost half insufficiently active, these results show we have the potential to prevent a significant number of cancers in Australia and potentially save thousands of lives".

"Obesity during childhood actually is a major predictor of adult obesity", Chang said, "I think it highlights the importance of reducing the rates of obesity through better diet, better and more exercise".

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