Why are younger people getting cancer?

Cancer Center expert featured in U.S. News & World Report article

Overall colorectal cancer deaths and diagnoses are declining, but researchers continue to see rates increasing among young people.

“Colorectal cancer is now the number one cause of cancer death in people ages 20 to 49,” Ian Paquette, MD, University of Cincinnati Cancer Center physician researcher, professor and interim director in the Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery in UC's College of Medicine, told U.S. News & World Report. “There’s a lot of ongoing research in colorectal cancer, especially around the microbiome and the balance of bacteria in the gut, to better understand what’s driving this increase.”

Research is ongoing to identify the exact cause of the increase among younger adults, but risk factors include heavy alcohol consumption, a lack of exercise, obesity, tobacco use and a diet low in fruits, vegetables and milk.

“The body mass index of the average American has been slowly increasing which is a factor that increases the risk of early-onset cancer,” Paquette said. “Diets high in red meats, processed foods and the use of alcohol predisposes younger people to cancer.”

Effective strategies to lower your risk of colorectal cancer include:

  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting screened regularly
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Read the U.S. News & World Report article.

Featured photo at top of a medical professional holding a colonoscope. Photo/robertprzybysz/iStock.

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