Alarming rise in obesity-related cancers in young people

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

This study was funded by the Intramural Research Department of the American Cancer Society and the Intramural Research Program of the National Cancer Institute.

"The future burden of these cancers might be exacerbated as younger cohorts age, potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades", the authors write.

To try to curb the trend of rising cancers among the obese, Jemal thinks that primary care doctors need to screen all their patients for obesity.

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In addition, communities can provide more opportunities for people to exercise by creating bike and walking paths. The main takeaway from this study may be to remain vigilant about your health and weight, as cancers related to obesity showed the most significant increases.

These include cancers of the colon, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreas, and multiple myeloma - a bone marrow cancer. For at least eight cancers, including smoking-related and HIV-associated cancers, the incidence rates dropped.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 25 state cancer registries that cover 67 percent of the USA population.

It's not possible to definitively attribute the recent cancer increases to obesity - but the new report notes that the upticks in cancer for young people coincided with a doubling in rates of childhood and adolescent obesity between 1980 and 2014, making weight a likely contributor.

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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.

"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. This could reflect the fact that some types of breast cancer are on the rise while others in decline. Other factors, like the environment and genetics, might also play roles.

The incidence remains far lower in younger people - with two 25-49 year olds per 100,000 getting pancreatic cancer a year, compared to 37 per 100,00 in 50-84 year olds - but the trend is concerning, researchers said. They considered 30 of the most common cancer types, including 12 obesity-related cancers [3] in people aged 25 to 84 years, diagnosed between 1995 and 2014. Being fat is one of the biggest avoidable causes of cancer.

In the new study, researchers from the American Cancer Society accessed a database provided by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries covering 67 percent of the population of the United States.

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Although the study, published in the Lancet Public Health journal did not look at United Kingdom patients, the authors said it was plausible that their findings held for the UK.