Early cancer, cases increase in under 50s

What is the reason behind the increase in cancer diagnoses among young adults? This is the question that researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States asked themselves when analyzing global cancer incidence data, focusing on 14 types of cancer that affect adults under the age of 50.

What the study says

Analyzing data on breast, colon, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancers, the researchers found a significant increase from the 1990s onwards, with the global incidence curve growing generation by generation. Through a literature review, experts have identified a number of possible risk factors that may have contributed to this trend since childhood. “People born in 1960, for example, have a higher risk of developing cancer before age 50 than people born in 1950. We expect this level of risk to continue to rise in subsequent generations,” said Shuji Ogino. among the authors of the study. Starting in infancy, the researchers examined available studies on possible risk factors, analyzing the biological and clinical characteristics of early-onset versus late-onset cancers. What emerged is that factors such as lifestyle, or diet, increasingly western-oriented even in low- and middle-income countries, may have contributed to an increase in the incidence of cases.

How important are habits

deepening



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Furthermore, the increase in incidence can only be partially attributed to the increase in the quality and number of cancer screenings. Smoking, alcohol, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have their weight, as does the change in habits over time. With very little rest time in children, sleep hours in adults remained unchanged. According to Ogino’s team, 8 of the 14 types of tumors taken in reference are related to the digestive system, an element that suggests an involvement of the intestinal microbiota. Today’s diets, in fact, which include more sugary drinks and processed foods since childhood, directly affect the composition of the intestinal microbiota, influencing together with lifestyle changes both the risk and the outcome of the disease.

A study with limits

Despite this, the researchers admit that the study has limitations. In fact, much more data would be needed to confirm how much screening and early diagnosis affect the incidence rate, as well as how the various risk factors affect the risk of disease. According to the researchers, in order to collect more health data and lifestyle habits, children should be involved to follow in the course of life, so that they can better follow global trends in the future. “Without such studies it is difficult to identify what someone with cancer did decades ago or when they were a child. Longitudinal cohort studies are not only more convenient considering the many cancers that need to be studied, but I believe they will provide us with more accurate information on cancer risk for generations to come, ”concluded Tomotaka Ugai, head of the analysis. The study was published in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.

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Early cancer, cases increase in under 50s


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