Millennials seem to have a lot going against them these days. Climate change, dismal job prospects, a skyrocketing housing market, crushing debt, and social unrest are just a handful of issues facing anyone born between 1980 and 1995. Previous generations of young adults have had their young age and vitality on their side, pushing them through long work hours and helping them bounce back when times got tough. Recently, however, new studies have come out to show that this demographic are now four times more likely to develop bowel cancer. (1)(6)
Bowel Cancer – The Poor Prognosis
Also known as colorectal cancer, bowel cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum. Traditionally associated with the elderly, rectal cancer rates in 20-29 year olds has been rising by 3% per year since 1974. Today, 3 in every 10 people under the age of 55 are diagnosed in America. (1)(2)
Epidemiologist Dr. Rebecca Siegel of the American Cancer society is disheartened by the prognosis: “Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden.” She says. “Our finding that colorectal (bowel) cancer risk for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering.”
Reasons Behind Skyrocketing Bowel Cancer Rates
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There are several risk factors for developing bowel cancer, however there are a specific few that are being credited for the rise in rates among the younger generation, most of which are related to lifestyle. (1)(2)
Many millennials have grown up on a diet of fast food, chocolate bars, and soda, and have continued those habits into adulthood. Their diets consist of large amounts of red or processed meats, such as bacon and sausage, and are extremely low in fiber. Diet is closely linked to the overall health of your digestive tract, including your colon and rectum. (3)(4)
Overweight or Obese
Being overweight or obese is linked to many health problems, including bowel cancer. With the average BMI of millennials on the rise, it should not come as a surprise that we are seeing an increase in disease. (3)(4)
More time is spent than ever before on inactive pursuits. We sit in our cars, at our jobs, and spend our downtime inside on the internet and streaming movies. This lack of physical activity is beginning to have a lethal impact on our health. (3)(4)
Alcohol and Smoking
Binge drinking is a rising problem among millennials living in America, and comes with a plethora of health implications, both immediate and in the future. Smoking shares many of these health risks, and both alcohol and smoking are contributing to the rise of colorectal cancer in younger generations. (3)(4)(5)
Signs and Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
Many of the symptoms of colorectal cancer can go unnoticed or be mistaken for other digestive disorders. Early detection is key to surviving cancer, so be sure to get a screening if you exhibit any of these symptoms (3)(4):
- Bloody stools (can be bright or dark red)
- Change in bowel habits (including diarrhea and constipation)
- Constant bloating or gas
- Thin, ribbon-like stools
- Low energy and weight loss
- pain in rectum, abdomen, butt, or legs
- frequent Urinary Tract Infections
- lump in the abdomen or rectum
5 Thing You Can Do to Lower Your Risk of Bowel Cancer
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
A high-fiber diet that includes a large variety of vegetables, lean protein, and plenty of water can greatly reduce your risk. Avoid sugar, processed and packaged foods, as well as deep fried and fast foods that are high in hydrogenated fats. (3)(4) Try this salad that packed with cancer-fighting ingredients.
2. Move More
On top of your regular exercise routine, get more active throughout your day. Go for a walk with your coworkers at lunch, instead of playing video games or watching movies with your friends, suggest activities that get you on your feet, such as playing catch, going skating, or a lively game of charades. (3)(4)
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
No, we’re not talking about looking like a super model or Olympic athlete, but carrying excess body fat is detrimental to your health in more ways than one. Keep your weight in-check by living a healthy, active lifestyle to decrease your risk of cancer. (3)(4)
4. Drink in Moderation
One glass of wine with dinner is perfectly fine, perhaps even beneficial, but three or four glasses? Not so much. Keep your drinking in moderation and lower your risk. (3)(4)
5. Quit Smoking
At this point it’s no secret that smoking is bad for you. Kick the bad habit to the curb and protect yourself from several types of cancer, including colorectal. (3)(4)
Bowel cancer is on the rise in North America in the younger generation. Help save yourself and your loved ones by sharing this article to educate and spread awareness.
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