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More Young People Than Ever Will Get Colorectal Cancer This Year - Diet and Screening Can Help

Colorectal cancer is on the rise among young people — and gut health could play a role.

Colorectal cancer is on the rise among individuals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, despite a decrease in cases among those aged 65 and above — a worrying trend as younger patients often have more aggressive forms of the disease that are detected at later stages. Experts have several possible explanations as to why.

Here's a summary of this article by The New York Times:

1. Diet Is A Contributing Factor 

The surge in colorectal cancer diagnoses among is not just driven by the genetics. Diet and lifestyle, including high intake of red meat, processed foods and alcohol, as well as low physical activity are linked to the higher cancer risks. Diet alone does not explain the frequency in the early-onset cases, but should be considered as an important driver. 

2. Environmental Factors: Gut Health Could Play A Role

Preliminary studies suggest that individuals with early-onset colorectal cancer may exhibit an imbalance in the composition of "healthy" and "unhealthy" bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract.

Researchers are currently exploring the effects of the drugs that can distrupt the microbiome: antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, proton pump inhibitors, and various psychiatric medications that could potentially be absorbed through the intestinal wall.

3. Screening and Awareness

Screening for colorectal cancer is crucial, but existing guidelines often do not apply to younger individuals, who are most affected by this trend. Increased awareness of symptoms and family history, along with advocating for earlier screening, can aid in detecting the disease early when the treatment is more effective.

While colonoscopies are the preferred screening method, less invasive options like home DNA tests are available. Advancements in screening technology may enhance participation rates and facilitate early detection.


Image by Freepik

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