Cancer in people under 50 increases by 79 percent: study

Blame it on hamburgers and alcohol.

The steady rise in cancer cases among young people could be attributed to red meat, salt and alcohol, new research suggests.

A study published Tuesday in BMJ Oncology analyzed data from 1990 and 2019, revealing a 79% increase in new cancer cases in people under 50 over three decades.

Using data from the Global Burden of Disease 2019 study – which examined the prevalence of 29 cancers in 204 countries or regions – researchers looked at the number of new cases, deaths, subsequent health impacts and risk factors for people aged 14 to 49.

In 2019 alone, cases of early-onset cancer in this age group totaled 3.26 million, an increase of 79.1% since 1990, according to the team of researchers from the School of Medicine of Zhejiang University and the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

The study authors also found a 27.7% increase in cancer-related deaths since 1990. Breast, tracheal, lung, intestinal and stomach cancers had lower mortality rates among the highest.

As cancer rates among young people skyrocket, researchers are looking for factors that put them at higher risk.
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Cases of tracheal and prostate cancer saw the largest increases since 1990, and breast cancer had the highest incidence rate of early-onset cases, the researchers found, while cases of early-onset liver cancer saw a decline.

North America was among the regions with the highest incidence of early cancers in 2019, along with Australasia and Western Europe. Meanwhile, countries like Eastern Europe, Oceania and Central Asia had the highest mortality rates.

“The increasing incidence of early-onset cancers may in part be attributed to the increasing use of screening and early detection in developed regions and countries,” the study authors write.

The increase in detections may also have a positive side: author Dr Xue Li highlighted “outstanding” screening efforts in the UK which have resulted in a drop in early-onset cancer-related deaths in the country.

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Excessive alcohol consumption could increase the risk of early cancer.
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According to researchers, smoking tobacco is another risk factor.
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“Fortunately, the annual mortality rate from early cancer in the UK has been steadily declining, reflecting the exceptional cancer screening and treatment efforts over the past three decades,” said Li, of the Center for Cancer. global health from the University of London. Usher Institute in Edinburgh, according to the Independent.

If the trends observed by the team continue, the researchers estimate that early cancer diagnoses could increase by 31% and deaths by 21% by 2030.

The authors noted that “local environment, lifestyle, and level of medical treatment available” could lead to variations in cancer cases and mortality rates across regions.

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A high BMI could also put patients at increased risk.
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Patient in a hospital bed
A diet high in red meat and salt but low in fruit and milk could also put patients at risk, the researchers said.
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In addition to genetics, the findings indicate that a “Western diet” of too much red meat and salt – and, therefore, not enough fruit and milk – could also put young people at risk.

Alcohol consumption and smoking have also been highlighted as risk factors for cancer in those under 50, in addition to lack of exercise, high body mass index and high blood sugar.

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