Cancer Cases in Adults Under 50 Have Increased Dramatically Around the World

·2 min read
MRI scan
MRI scan


People under the age of 50 are increasingly at risk for a number of early onset cancers, according to a new report.

Breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, liver and pancreas cancers have increased dramatically, beginning in the 1990s, according to a study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., published in this week's Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.

"From our data, we observed something called the birth cohort effect," Shuji Ogino, MD, Ph.D., professor and physician-scientist, said in the report, which suggested increasing risk with each generation. "This effect shows that each successive group of people born at a later time (e.g., decade-later) have a higher risk of developing cancer later in life, likely due to risk factors they were exposed to at a young age.

"For instance, people born in 1960 experienced higher cancer risk before they turn 50 than people born in 1950 and we predict that this risk level will continue to climb in successive generations," he explained.

Risk factors include a person's diet, weight, lifestyle, environmental exposure and microbiome, researchers said, adding that more information on individuals' exposures is needed.



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Currently, the median age for breast cancer diagnosis is 62, while it is 66 for prostate cancer, 67 for colorectal cancer and 71 for lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Last week, a study published in the medical journal The BMJ showed that consumption of ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

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The study analyzed the diets of over 46,000 men and 150,00 women to trace the correlation between what they ate and cases of colorectal cancer. After 24-28 years of participant follow-ups, researchers found a link between ultra-processed foods and colorectal cancer in men, but not women.

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"Men who consumed ultra-processed foods in the highest fifth had a 29% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than did those in the lowest fifth," the study detailed. For women, however, no "significant association" was calculated.