- Researchers investigated the risk factors behind increasing cases of early-onset cancer, which are cancers that occur before the age of 50.
- They found that lifestyle factors starting in early life and young adulthood likely influence early-onset cancer risk.
- They concluded that longitudinal studies are needed to confirm their results.
Cancer occurs when genetic mutations cause cells grow uncontrollably and can occur in any organ or tissue of the body. According to the World Health Organization, the condition is the secondTrusted Source leading cause of death worldwide.
Whereas cancer typically affects people ages 50 years and older, studies indicate that, since the 1990s, the incidence of certain cancers has been rising among those under 50 years old in many parts of the world.
Early-onset cancers pose a higher risk of long-term health problems, including infertilityTrusted Source, cardiovascular conditionsTrusted Source, and secondary cancersTrusted Source as well as side-effects from cancer treatment.
Understanding risk factors for early-onset cancers could aid their prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Recently, researchers conducted a review of various studies to determine possible risk factors for early-onset cancer.
They noted that lifestyle factors early in life such as diet, obesity, and environmental exposure may contribute to early onset cancer risk.
Dr. Andrew K. Dingwall, professor of cancer biology and pathology and laboratory Medicine at Loyola University, who was not involved in the study, said:
“One benefit from this type of analysis is that it provides an opportunity to engage in more directed discussions aimed at confronting these health disparities, which may have the potential to provide long-term health benefits to those affected communities.”
“The study provides [a substantial] view of the impact that diet, exercise, and environment might play in the development of early-onset cancers.”
— Dr. Andrew K. Dingwall
The cancer types studied
For the review, the researchers first analyzed global data from the years 2000 to 2012 on the incidence of 14 cancer types that have increased in incidence among adults under age 50. These included:
- breast cancer
- colorectal cancer
- endometrial cancer
- esophageal cancer
- head and neck cancer
- kidney cancer
- multiple myeloma
- pancreatic cancer
- prostate cancer
- stomach cancer
- thyroid cancer
The researchers then examined studies investigating possible risk factors for cancers, alongside literature describing the clinical and biological tumor characteristics of early and later-onset cancers.
They acknowledged that the increased incidence of early-onset cancer might be partially linked to increased screening uptake. They also wrote, however, that other factors are likely responsib
How to reduce your cancer risk
When asked how people reduce their cancer risk in light of these findings, Dr. Ugai recommended the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoiding western-style diets rich in highly processed foods, animal fat, desserts, and excessive red meat
- Avoiding sugar
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding smoke/smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Consuming well-balanced nutritious foods and drinks
- Trying to get good sleep with a regular schedule and avoiding bright light at night
- Decreasing night shift jobs as much as possible
- Geting vaccinated against cancer-causing microorganisms such as HPV and HBVcc