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Colorectal cancer rates increasing in young adults

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NEW YORK Despite overall declining rates of colorectal cancer in the United States, recent studies show that the number of adults with colorectal cancer younger than 50 years old is increasing.

Rising obesity rates and changes in diet, including a higher intake of fast food and red meat, are said to be possible causes for the increase. According to a study posted in the June 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, further evidence is needed to confirm causes for the trend and to determine possible prevention and early detection strategies.

Since the mid 1980s, colorectal cancer rates in individuals 50 years and older have been decreasing, most prominently in recent years thanks to a rise in routine cancer screenings. The colorectal cancer rate has declined by 2.8% amongst men and 2.2% amongst women annually.

On the contrary, the rate of colorectal cancer found in individuals 50 years and younger, who do not generally go for routine screenings, is increasing. A study led by Rebecca Siegel at the American Cancer Society looked at data from 1992 to 2005 involving individuals 20 to 49 and found that incidence rates of colorectal cancer increased 1.5% per year in men and 1.6% per year in women. Young adults ages 20 to 29 years were found to face the most substantial increase in colorectal cancer.

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