Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Obesity-linked cancers rising in young adults

Obesity-linked cancers rising in young adults

Those include cancer of the pancreas, kidney, bone marrow and gall bladder.

What's more, millennials had about double the risk of developing certain obesity-related cancers than baby boomers had at the same age.

"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.

Jemal's team looked at 18 other types of cancer, but only two showed a similar increase, while eight cancers related to smoking showed a drop, and the rest remained stable.

The researchers noted that young adults still have an overall lower risk of developing these cancers, compared with older adults.

The research, which was funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, suggests rising levels of obesity-related cancer risks undoing progress made in reducing the number of deaths from the disease.

A new study finds rates are increasing for six of 12 cancers related to obesity in younger adults in the United States, with steeper increases in progressively younger ages and successively younger generations. They had complete data from 25 states that represent about two thirds of the USA population.

Incidence of multiple myeloma and cancers of the colorectum, uterine corpus, gallbladder, kidney, pancreas, and thyroid increased in younger adults (25 to 49 years).

A further 19,200 inactivity-related cancers could also potentially be avoided if every Australian adult undertook at least five hours of moderate intensity physical activity per week.

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In the youngest age group, 25 to 29 years, it was 4.3 per cent.

However, for nearly all (16 out of 18) of the non-obesity related cancers, except for gastric cancer and leukemia, cancers dropped or stabilized in successively younger generations-meaning the absolute risk of all cancers is lower for the youngest age groups. Of course, obesity is only one factor - the environment, genetics and other issues also play roles, the BBC points out.

Overall, the findings could reflect the obesity epidemic of the past 40 years. And while we don't yet know exactly how obesity may be driving up cancer rates, it's "critically important" to see observational studies that that show an association between the two, he noted.

Excess body weight is considered a known carcinogen and is linked with more than a dozen cancers.

Dr Jemal said: 'Over the past few decades, death rates have been in decline for most cancers, but in the future obesity could reverse that progress, barring any interventions.

But the researchers conclude that their findings have significant public health implications, particularly for health care providers and policy makers, and provide a stepping stone for future research on the relationship between the present obesity epidemic and early onset cancer.

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

"The quality of the American diet has worsened in recent decades", concluded the study's leading author Hyuna Sung.

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