US warns world that colon cancer cases have tripled in young adults and teenagers

Colon cancer is reintroducing a public health issue that is increasingly being talked about: colon cancer is not a health problem associated solely with aging. A study published today warns the world that Over the past two decades, the incidence of colorectal tumors among young adults and even teenagers has tripled in the United States. Inadequate nutrition and overuse of antibiotics appear to be to blame for a situation that could very well spread to the rest of Western countries. The panorama of Spain is still not even remotely similar to that seen in the land of the stars and stripes, but this is a cause for concern. The Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM) confirms that in our country, more and more cases of the disease are also appearing among young people between the ages of twenty and thirty.

The work, which will be unveiled in full on the 20th to mark Digestive Disorders Week, explains that bowel tumors are rising in all age groups, but the “most dramatic spikes” are occurring in young adults and teenagers. The trend began to change at the turn of the century between 1999 and 2020: the incidence of colorectal cancer increased by 500% among children aged 10 to 14 years, by 333% among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and by 185% among adults in aged from 20 to 19 years. 24. The data in the report was extracted from the Wonder database of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, which is the reference public health agency in the United States and therefore also in the Western world.

“Colorectal cancer can no longer be considered a disease of old age,” said lead researcher Islam Mohamed, an internal medicine specialist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “It is important that the entire population, young and old, is aware of the symptoms and signs of this disease.

They sweep away human defenses

The occurrence of colorectal cancer is influenced by a variety of aspects. A family history of tumor pathology or inflammatory bowel disease. But these are not the only reasons. There are, and have long been known, modifiable risk factors that are associated with lifestyle and which, judging by what is becoming increasingly reliable, have a decisive influence on the disease. Obesity, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, low-fiber or high-fat diets, and consumption of processed meats and sugary drinks are all influential.

Anything we do that affects our gut increases our risk of disease. The list of precautions that should be taken into account is thus supplemented by a sedentary lifestyle, the presence of tumor-forming bacteria in the intestines (a consequence of poor nutrition) and the use of antibiotics, which, as is known, “cleanse” our microbiota, which plays a fundamental role in role in the human defense system,” confirms SEOM oncologist Ana Fernandez Montes, specialist at the Ourense University Complex.

Public health measures

The United States has lowered the age for screening the population to 45 years and, given the situation, is considering the possibility of lowering it again.

In Spain, cases of the disease have not yet been reported among adolescents, but they have been observed in young people aged 20 to 30 years.

The expert confirms that the situation in Spain is very far from the situation in the United States; but he warns that this phenomenon has in some ways already begun to repeat itself. “I know very few patients under 45, but not a single teenager. Yes, it’s true,” the specialist clarifies, “that at our consultations we increasingly see young people; “I myself have had and still have several patients aged 26, 30, 32… but I have never seen or heard anyone in Spain comment on sick teenagers.” Despite this, he warns: “At the end of the day, that’s what happens. When you see your neighbor’s beard trimmed, leave yours to soak.

Signs of early illness

In the US, the situation has reached such an extreme that, as he explains, the country has found it necessary to lower the age of plans for early detection of colorectal cancer to 45 years. Now new scientific evidence is prompting the local scientific community to consider expanding the program to younger ages. “This is happening, and I see it as logical. There are already studies that show that ultra-processed foods, sweetened drinks and antibiotics increase the risk of colon cancer. “This is it,” he warns urgently.

The American study also notes a significant increase in the incidence of colorectal tumors in older age groups, but younger than 45 years. The reasons for this outbreak are the same. Among citizens aged 30 to 34 years, the incidence increased by 71% (6.5 per 100,000 inhabitants); and 58% aged 35 to 39 years. The most common symptoms of early-onset colorectal cancer are changes in bowel habits, including constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and iron deficiency anemia.

In Spain, adds the oncologist SEOM, there is no National Cancer Registry, which makes it difficult, even impossible, to determine figures in similar realities that are already observed in consultations. There are some autonomous ones, but there is nothing centralized. “Our TTD (Digestive Tumor Treatment Group) research group is carrying out many campaigns to launch this type of organ,” which Fernandez Montes says is necessary to fight cancer.

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