Although most cancers occur in people over the age of 50 (9 out of 10), a trend is being observed that worries experts around the world: increased incidence of tumors All types, although some have more of it than others- In young people, between the ages of 25 and 49. This increase is happening without any distinction between high, middle and low income countries, so it is something that should be “seen as one”. Emerging Global Pandemic”According to an article recently published in New Scientist, Shuji Ogino, a noted researcher at Harvard Medical School, in a recent review by the World Health Organization. “I think the trend It won’t stop anytime soon, and it could intensify.”He added.
The United Kingdom is the country where the data is starting to be analyzed in more detail, and the first findings are worrying. The combined incidence of all cancers among people aged 25 to 49 increased by 22% between 1993 and 2018, from 133 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to 162 per 100,000. figures of Colon cancer is the most dangerous, This age group has increased by about 50% since the 1990s. According to the institutes investigating it – Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the US National Cancer Institute – there is a similar pattern in the US, Canada, Australia. South Korea, and several European countries including Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. In fact, In 20 European countries, there is an increase of about 2% per year in those aged 40, 5% in those aged 30 and 8% in those aged 20.
Two internationally respected experts in colorectal tumors, Mario Giannakis and Kimmy NgA month ago, colleagues from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School in Boston (USA) published an article in the journal Science warning that by 2030, colorectal cancer will become the most common disease. people aged 20 to 49, while the decline will continue in those over the age of 50. ng said no There is no evidence to indicate that cases with a hereditary component are on the rise.
For this reason, both suggest strengthening early detection programs in young adults. The United States has already done so in 2021, when it lowered the age at which doctors recommend testing for hidden blood in stool from 50 to 45. In Spain, screening and early detection programs for this type of tumor still begin after the age of 50.
Although there is no specific registry of tumors of the digestive tract in our country, and the Spanish Network of Cancer Registries (RADICAN) does not differentiate cancer types by age – it only divides them by tumor type and gender – Oncologists are also seeing a significant increase in their inquiries. “All I can say is We are seeing young people with cancer of the digestive tract. The problem is that, in these cases, the tumor has a Very fast replication rates and low clinical suspicion allow us to diagnose at more advanced stages”highlights Ana Fernandez-MontesMember of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM) and Medical Oncologist at Ourense University Hospital Complex.
What the oncologists say coincides with another worrying trend that British and American researchers have observed: that some cancers that occur in people under 50 are on the rise. more aggressive than older ones, especially those bowel, breast and prostate. This makes sense because tumors under the age of 50 are also more likely to have certain congenital characteristics, such as genetic mutations that are more difficult to treat, they explain in the New Scientist article.
“The SEOM Digestive Tumor Research Group is working on analyzing the variables that may be involved,” says Fernandez-Montes.
The usual suspects
But what are those variables? change first Diet, Especially because the greatest increase is in intestinal tumors, our digestive tract coming into direct contact with the food we eat. In fact, of the 14 types of cancer that have increased in people under the age of 50, eight involve some part of the digestive system, such as the esophagus, stomach and gallbladder. “it is known that Western lifestyle – obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high intake of processed and ultra-processed foods, high protein diet, sweetened beverages – increases the risk of tumors of the digestive tract”, explains the oncologist.
In fact, High rise in bowel cancer in people aged 18 to 49 (classified as early onset) tumors arising in the lower part of the intestine and rectum next to the anus, And these types of cancer are the most common associated with eating processed red meat,” says Marios Giannakis of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, in the cited article.
other suspects use of antibiotics– because of its potential effect on our gut bacteria – or on our growing exposure to certain environmental pollutants, The scientists call for “larger, longer-term studies that follow people from an early age and record their eventual rates of cancer, tracking their lifestyles and environments – known as an exposome.” . For now, we are just groping in the dark.”