Study Blames Western Diet, Excessive Alcohol Consumption for Rise in Cancer Among Young People

Cancer rates among people under 50 have soared over the past three decades, a new study shows. And the data suggests that risk factors linked to “Westernized” diets – which tend to be high in red meat and sodium, and low in fruits and vegetables – are the cause, exacerbated by alcohol consumption and tobacco.

The study, published by BMJ Oncology, found that global cases of early-onset cancer in people under 50 increased by 79 percent, from 1.82 million in 1990 to 3.26 million in 2019. .Similarly, global cancer deaths increased by 27 percent to 1.06. million in 2019.

In their findings, researchers analyzed data from 204 countries and 29 cancer types, examining incidences of cases, deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), which is equivalent to one year loss of healthy life, as well as other risks. factors.

Although genetic factors play a role in cancer diagnoses, researchers found that diet, alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as physical inactivity, being overweight and high blood sugar were the main factors in risk.

“Changes in diet, lifestyle and environment since the early 20th century, leading to increased rates of obesity, physical inactivity, westernized diets and environmental pollution, may have affected the “incidence of early cancers,” said the study authors. wrote. “In addition, alcohol, smoking and adverse pregnancy exposures may also have affected the incidence of early cancers.”

Breast cancer has the highest incidence of cases and deaths, 13.7 and 3.5 per 100,000 population worldwide. Cancers of the trachea, lung, stomach and intestine were associated with the highest mortality rate after breast cancer, with the greatest increase in deaths among people with kidney cancer or ovaries.

North America, Oceania and Western Europe also accounted for the highest rates of early cancers in 2019, with low- and middle-income countries in Oceania, Eastern Europe and Central Asia recording the highest mortality rates.

And the problem will likely only get worse unless the world’s population radically changes its way of life. Based on data from the past three decades, projections indicate that global cases and deaths will increase by 31 percent and 21 percent by 2030, with people aged 40 to 44 and 45 to 49 years being most at risk. .

“Early cancer-related morbidity continues to increase worldwide, with notable variations in mortality and DALYs between areas, countries, gender and cancer types,” the study concludes. “Encouraging a healthy lifestyle could reduce the burden of early-onset cancer diseases.”

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