By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Cancers associated with obesity in the younger generation are on the rise in the U.S., according to a February 2019 report published in the Lancet.
The startling reality is obesity has doubled since 1980 in 73 countries around the globe, which is impacting the health and well-being of many and increasing the risk of many types of cancers. Obesity is the second leading preventable cause of cancer after smoking in many other Western countries.
Specific cancers that have a strong relationship with obesity that are on the rise in younger generations are:
These types of cancers typically occur later in life, for people normally in their 60s, 70s and beyond. These new findings are very concerning. Even with great advancements in cancer therapy, people are being diagnosed with cancer at younger ages.
The most statistical increases are in the millennial age bracket with young people ages 25-29 years showing the sharpest increases, while the age bracket 40-44 only slightly increased.
These cancers are now double the rate for millennials than they were for the baby boomers at the same age. Millennials are also the most overweight generation in history.
Two other cancers that are not related to obesity that are on the rise in the younger generation are gastrointestinal cancer and leukemia. On a positive note, some non-obesity related cancers have stabilized or declined in recent years particularly cancers relating to infections and smoking.
Obesity is a global issue and is now being classified as an epidemic, the World Health Organization estimates more than 1 billion people are overweight and 300 million are obese.
Obesity is also related to many other serious health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes type 2, depression, anxiety, mental health, respiratory difficulties, chronic musculoskeletal problems, skin problems and infertility.
The obesity epidemic can be linked to many factors, including less physical activity combined with the over-consumption of nutrient-depleted convenience food. Many of these junk foods are designed to encourage mindless eating so you overeat and unfortunately it’s working.
Clever marketing helps to normalize junk food and make it as appealing as possible.
Another alarming statistic is the rise of obesity in children, which then increases their risk of developing cancer and other diseases at an earlier age and in later life. It is estimated that 1 in 6 children (from 2-19 years old) in the U.S. are obese.
“And we know in people and animal studies that obesity is associated with an increase in cancer and a worse prognosis for patients who have cancer. That’s well established,” Case Western Reserve University oncologist Dr. Nathan Berger said in an interview.
Cancer + Obesity Connection
There are a few potential reasons why the link between cancer and obesity exists.
Abdominal fat is associated with an increase in cancer rates, as large amounts of adipose tissue increase the production of inflammatory cytokines in the blood stream, fat tissue (particularly visceral fat) is seen as an injury in the body so it continually increases inflammation to try and combat this injury, which then increases the risk of other very serious health concerns.
Another potential contributing factor is hormones. They have a growth-like effect, so if there are any irregular cells developing obesity-related hormones stimulated by excess calories can potentially create unhealthy cell proliferation in certain body systems.
Steps To Prevent & Reduce Obesity
Just incorporating these simple steps will reduce the potential risk of obesity, this will help you to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight and best of all reduce your risk of many serious diseases.