Colorectal cancers are rising in twenty, thirty and forty-somethings; experts wonder why

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

Nobody knows exactly why, but colorectal cancer is on the rise in young people. That’s considered anyone under the age of fifty. At the same time, cases are dropping in people who are over 65.

The figures are more pronounced within a subset of patients. “We’re seeing more in younger population, especially African American population is at a higher risk for colorectal cancer,” Lee Health gastroenterologist Dr. Sameen Khalid told WINK News health and medical reporter Amy Oshier.

Compared to whites, African Americans have a 20 percent higher rate of disease. Dr. Khalid believes it’s important to understand risk factors so that people can be proactive.

Advanced age, family history, and genetic predisposition are known facts. More recently, research is linking lifestyle, including the food we eat, to the mix.

“So diet that is rich in red meat and processed foods, it has been shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer,” Dr. Khalid explained. “To prevent it from developing, it is recommended to have a diet that is low that is actually high in fiber, some more fruits, vegetables (and) whole grains.”

Obesity is another biggie. As Americans have grown bigger, cancer rates have also increased. Binge drinking is a modifiable factor, too. It’s not the only one. “Tobacco smoking puts an individual into higher risk of colorectal cancer as well.”

Some cases don’t fall into any of these. Experts are also looking at environmental causes. The best thing, for now, is to make use of colonoscopy screenings. Because of the increase in younger cases, a first screening in people with no family or genetic risk factors, is now age 45.

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