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Study: Cases of colon cancer increasing among millennials, young adults

WASHINGTON – Researchers have a new warning about a deadly cancer that is becoming more prevalent in younger adults and millennials.

The vast majority of colorectal cancer cases, nearly 90 percent, are diagnosed in people over age 50.

However, a new study finds risks are increasing steadily for younger adults.

“When I go to the hospital and I’m sitting amongst 60 and 70 and 80 year olds, I get a lot of glares and looks and, ‘Why are you here? What are you doing here?'” Jovannie Lorenzo told NBC News. 

Lorenzo was diagnosed with colon cancer at just 31-years-old.

The American Cancer Society now reports people in their 20s and 30s have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk for rectal cancer as their parents’ generation did at the same age.

“The risk of colon and rectal cancer for millennials – people born around 1990 – has escalated back to the risk of people born in the late 1800s,” said Rebecca Siegel, MPH, with the American Cancer Society.

There is not a clear explanation for the uptick, but experts believe a high fat diet, increased body weight, inactivity and smoking play a role.

Colorectal warning signs can include unusual abdominal cramping and changes in bowel habits.

The American Cancer Society recommends that most adults start colon cancer screenings at 50, but experts say those guidelines may need to be re-evaluated.

 

Experts say to reduce your risk, cut back on fatty food and processed meats, eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Also, get plenty of exercise.