More and more people under the age of 50 have developed cancer in recent years, warn researchers who have made it a research priority.
It is an “epidemic of early cancers” that worries the American National Cancer Institute. While cancers affect more people over 50, more and more patients develop one before this age. Breast, pancreas, stomach, thyroid… all organs are affected. A study published in the scientific journal Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology believes that this increase began in the 1990s.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States analyzed global data describing the worldwide incidence of 14 types of cancer in the population. They then reviewed the scientific literature to determine possible risk factors and biological characteristics of early cancers.
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The identified risk factors
“From our data, we observed what is called the birth cohort effect. This effect shows that each successive group of people born later has a higher risk of developing cancer later in life, probably due to risk factors they were exposed to at a young age,” Shuji Ogino, an author of the study, said in a statement. Thus, people born in 1960 had a higher risk of cancer before turning 50 than people born in 1950 and this risk increases over generations.
The increasing incidence of early cancers can be explained by changes in diet and in particular the consumption of processed foods, lifestyle such as a more widespread sedentary lifestyle or by prolonged exposure to environmental factors (pollution, pesticides, etc.) . The researchers do not exclude that screening programs participate in this phenomenon, but they believe it is unlikely that this is the main reason for this finding.
Researchers now want to include the youngest in their research. Based on the observation that children sleep less than before, lack of sleep could, for example, increase the risk of cancer in adulthood.
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