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Your Healthy Family: Study shows rise in cancer in people under 50

Posted at 8:27 AM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 08:27:37-04

A study shows more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with cancer worldwide, including breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and prostate cancer.

"It's a very concerning trend for sure," Dr. Suneel Kamath, an Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic, said.

It's a trend he said he's seeing in his patients.

"If you look at my clinic schedule, and I just kind of scan through the ages of the patients coming in, there are a lot more people in their 20s and 30s than there were in the past," he said.

Dr. Kamath said there's no one definitive answer as to why people under 50 are getting early onset cancer; more research needs to be done. But according to the study, part of the rise in cancer cases may be because of people getting screenings done at a younger age now. Other factors could be related to diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures Researchers also said obesity seems to play a role. Dr. Kamath said he agrees, especially since obesity rates have gone up since the 1950's. Today, nearly 75 percent of Americans are considered overweight or obese. That number was under 40 percent 25 years ago.

"We know that calorie excess really causes a lot of harmful things in terms of metabolism, inflammation. All of those things can be triggers for cancer, and because excess weight is such a global risk factor, it really could affect many different tumor types," he said.

For cancer prevention, Dr. Kamath recommends keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. He also said not to miss your annual cancer screenings.