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Millennials getting obesity-related cancers at younger ages, American Cancer Society says


Millennials getting obesity-related cancers (Raylipscombe / Getty Images)

Younger adults, especially in the generation known as millennials, are seeing increasing rates of obesity-fueled cancers, the American Cancer Society says in a new report.

The rate for six of the 12 cancers related to obesity is increasing in younger adults, the cancer society said in a statement describing the study results published Monday in The Lancet. Millennials’ risk of developing certain cancers is nearly double that of Baby Boomers at the same age, the cancer society said.

The society noted “steeper increases in progressively younger ages and successively younger generations,” the American Cancer Society said in a statement outlining the findings. Colorectal, endometrial, pancreatic and gall bladder cancers were among them.

In contrast, the study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, found rate increases for just two of 18 non-obesity-related cancers researchers examined. Rates stabilized or declined for the rest of them, even smoking-related and infection-related cancers, the cancer society said.

Excess body weight is a known carcinogen because of hormones produced by fat cells, and earlier exposure, at different periods of development, compounds the problem, CNN noted.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the risk itself that was high, it was the change in risk that was alarming for its future public health implications, study authors said.

“Given the large increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young people and increasing risks of obesity-related cancers in contemporary birth cohorts, the future burden of these cancers could worsen as younger cohorts age, potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades,” said Ahmedin Jemal, DVM Ph.D., scientific vice president of surveillance and health services research, and senior/corresponding author of the paper, in a statement. “Cancer trends in young adults often serve as a sentinel for the future disease burden in older adults, among whom most cancer occurs.”