Are You A Millennial? You May Be At Risk Of Colon Or Rectal Cancer


Written by: Kat Gal

If you are a millennial or a someone from generation X, you may be at high risk for colon and rectal cancer, according to a study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by researchers from the American Cancer Society.

Based on the results of their studies, colon and rectal cancers have increased dramatically and are growing steadily in young and middle-aged adults in the U.S.

According to Rebecca Siegel, lead researcher at the institute, the underlying risk for colorectal cancer is rising quickly among young adults. The study explains that those born in 1990 have a much higher risk of early colon and rectal cancer than those born in 1950. It also looks like that Millennials and Generation X adults have a chance to carry this risk forward.

The U.S. has about 135,000 annual cases of colon and rectal cancer with 50,000 death related to them. Cases of rectal cancer in younger adults has risen 29%, whereas cases of colon cancer has risen by 17%. In 2013 alone, 11,000 people in their 40s and 4,000 under 40 were diagnosed.

Looking at previous statistics, since 1983 rectal cancer rates rose by 3.2% among those in their 30s. This is pretty significant as according to Siegel anything more than 1% is considered as a big change. It looks like more people are getting colon and rectal cancer at a young age than ever before.

Dr. Thomas Weber, surgical oncologist at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center says that cancer clinics also definitely see evidence of this.

Researchers and doctors alike are alarmed by this reality, especially that currently there are no health groups that recommend young adults to get screening tests. Current trends only recommend screening to those over 50 or at high risk due to genetic syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders and family histories.

According to Siegel, screenings can be important as they can catch polyps that may turn into cancer later. Young adults tend to get tested only after they develop symptoms and when their cancer is at a much more advanced stage. Of course, screening tests carry potential harms, but also have benefits of early detection.

It is important to know the symptoms and risk factors of colon and rectal cancer, regardless of your age.

Possible symptoms of colon and rectal cancer:

  • Blood in your stools
  • Cramps and abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in your bowel habits lasting for more than a few days, including diarrhea and constipation
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding with red blood

The risk factors of colon and rectal cancer include:

  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Diets high in red and processed meat
  • Diets low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains

How you can prevent or lower your risks of colon and rectal cancer:

  • Eat a healthy, plant-based and fiber rich diet with lots of greens, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Eliminate (or highly reduce) your consumption of red and processed meat, animal products, processed sugar and processed foods.
  • Exercise plenty, at least 20-30 minutes a day. Move your body often, even if you have a sit down job, stand up for breaks, stretch and walk around.
  • Drink plenty of water 8-10 8 oz glasses a day minimum.
  • Lose weight if you need to and maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke. Stop drinking or drink only moderately.
  • Take probiotics and eat probiotic rich food, such as kimchi, kombucha and coconut kefir.

Are you a Millennial or a Generation X adult? What steps are you going to take this week to start lowering your risk of colon and rectal cancer? Share in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.

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Kat Gal

Kat Gal

Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
Kat Gal


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