March is the official “Colon Cancer Awareness Month!” Although colon cancer may not be an extremely pressing issue on most of our minds, a new study that came out last month may change your mind.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute recently published an article about research that found that colorectal cancer rates have been steadily rising among Gex X and Millennials. They found that between the mid-80s and 2013, colon cancer rates increased between one and two percent per year for people in their 20s and 30s, while rectal cancer rates have risen 3 percent per year.
Though it sounds small, this is a pretty alarming rate for this type of cancer to be increasing in a young population.
The study also concluded that those born in the 90s are twice as likely to get colon cancer, and four times as likely to develop rectal cancer, compared to people born in the 50s. In fact, the rate of colon cancer among Millennials is higher than it’s been since the 1800s. The researchers did not conclude why this trend is occurring, although many scientists and nutritionists would say that it might be tied to increasing obesity rates. Other factors that may be linked include eating too much meat and processed food, not exercising enough, and excessive alcohol and tobacco usage.
Getting a colonoscopy anytime soon is probably not a concern most Millennials should have. However, if you do have some of the symptoms, be sure and talk to your doctor. As well, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and cut down on your processed, fast food intake. And, encourage your parents and grandparents to get screened, because early detection really is key!