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Alarming Rise Of Colorectal Cancer Among Young Adults

Key Highlights

  • Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, yet it continues to be a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. 
  • In recent years, there has been a disturbing trend of rising rates of this cancer among younger populations. 

Although colorectal cancer is highly preventable, it remains a significant cause of cancer-related deaths globally. Unfortunately, there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of the disease in younger age groups in recent times.

Despite the overall decline in colorectal cancer mortality rates, the disease incidence in adults under 55 years of age has increased from 1% to 2% per year since the mid-1990s. As a result, young adults now make up 20% of all cases, compared to just 11% in 1995.

How To Reduce The Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

Researchers are still trying to understand the causes behind this trend, but there are several proven ways to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer regardless of age. The most effective way to lower the risk is to get screened routinely, starting at age 45, for those at average risk. 

1. Screening Tests Might Help

The screening tests can detect precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum and remove them before they develop into invasive cancer. Colonoscopies are the most well-known method for colorectal cancer screening, but other less-invasive options are available, such as flexible sigmoidoscopies and stool-based tests. Virtual colonoscopies may also be an option for some patients.

2. Know Your Family History

Knowing one’s family history is also critical to determining personal risk and getting screened on time. If there have been numerous cancer diagnoses in the family, including colorectal cancer, it may be advisable to consider genetic testing. 

Individuals with a first-degree relative with this cancer or a precancerous polyp should start getting screened earlier than those at average risk.

3. Limit Red and Processed Meats

Another way to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer is to limit the consumption of red and processed meats, which have consistently been linked to an increased risk. While cutting out red meat entirely is unnecessary, opting for high-quality meats and swapping out processed meats for leaner white meats like chicken or pork can help. 

A diet high in natural sources of fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, and whole grains, can also help reduce the risk of the disease.

4. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol 

Avoiding smoking and alcohol can also help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Cigarette smoking is well-known for its link to lung cancer, but it can cause cancer nearly anywhere in the body, including the colon and rectum. Excessive alcohol consumption has also been linked to an increased risk.

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