Global rates of early-onset cancer have “increased dramatically”, according to the study

Researchers found rates of early-onset cancer are rising globally and linked the increases to many different factors that affect different parts of the world in different ways (file photo)

Rates of early-onset cancer are rising worldwide and experts blame the rise on modern Western diets, increases in obesity and poor sleep habits among young people.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, gathered data on 14 cancers from 44 countries around the world and found that early-onset cases were almost universally increasing.

The research team speculates that multiple factors are at play. Increased alcohol consumption, overuse of antibiotics, increased average height, higher sedentary and obesity rates, devastating smoking rates in the late 1900s, and poor sleep habits have affected the age cohort most affected by this increase, and are related to the increases. at risk of cancer.

They say these factors are related to the “Western-style” diet, where a person consumes more processed, high-fat foods and sugary drinks. Many in the West also live a sedentary lifestyle. In America in particular, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed last week that only 25 percent of the population hit weekly fitness marks.

Researchers found rates of early-onset cancer are rising globally and linked the increases to many different factors that affect different parts of the world in different ways (file photo)

“From our data, we observed something called a birth cohort effect. This effect shows that each successive group of people born at a later time (say, a decade later) has a higher risk of developing cancer later in life, probably because of the risk factors they were exposed to at a young age,” Shuji Ogina said. , said a Brigham professor who participated in the research.

“We found that this risk increases with each generation. For example, people born in 1960 experienced a higher risk of cancer before turning 50 than people born in 1950, and we predict that this level of risk will continue to increase in successive generations.”

The researchers, who published their findings this week in Nature, gathered data from 44 countries starting in 2000.

They then found individual studies from each of the included nations that would measure risk factors for different types of cancer. These would include studies showing trends in obesity in the US and other countries, for example.

Cases of early-onset kidney cancer increased more in the United States in both men and women. Rates of early-onset myeloma decreased among men, and the number of early-onset esophageal cancers decreased among women. Almost all other cancers experienced an increase between the two genders.

Further research into trends in each of the included countries found that 10 cancer risk factors had become more common for this generation than their previous cohort.

Obesity is one of the most important factors, and the condition is considered a risk factor for many different types of cancer.

‘Among the 14 types of cancer on the rise that we studied, eight were related to the digestive system. The food we eat feeds the microorganisms in our gut,” said Dr. Tomotaka Ugai, the study’s lead author who works in Brigham’s Department of Pathology.

“Diet directly affects the composition of the microbiome, and ultimately these changes can influence disease risk and outcomes.”


The “Western diet” has contributed greatly to obesity and diabetes rates worldwide, which are two major risk factors for many types of cancer.

The researchers found that global obesity rates skyrocketed in recent decades, rising from 3.2% to 10.8% in men and from 6.4% to 14.9% in women between 1975 and 2014

Obesity is a major problem in the United States in particular, where the CDC reports that more than 40 percent of adults suffer from the disease.

Other factors also played a role in the jump. While alcohol consumption actually declined in Western Europe, the researchers found that consumption rates in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East increased.

Drinking has been linked to cancers of the liver, colorectal, breast and more.

The overuse of antibiotics that plagued the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s is also playing a role.

Some experts fear that the powerful drugs may have damaged the gut microbiome of many users, leaving them vulnerable to cancers along the gastrointestinal tract.

While smoking rates have declined in the West, in many Asian countries the tobacco industry is beginning to grow, making lung and mouth cancers more common in younger people.

People are taller now too. Although it could be seen as a positive story, it is believed that taller people have a higher risk of developing cancer.

Children are also sleeping less now than in previous years. This is for multiple reasons. First, the increased use of devices such as cell phones and computers has disrupted nighttime routines in many households. The blue light emitted by these devices can also cause problems.

One of the most notable risk factors mentioned by the researchers was the impact that the Western diet is having.

The diet is high in saturated fat, processed and red meats and sugary products, while low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Poor dietary habits contribute to many of the risk factors for cancer, such as obesity and diabetes. Many of the contents of processed foods and sugary drinks, especially high fructose corn syrup, have been linked to the development of cancer.

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