Just knowing that a certain kind of cancer is on the rise is enough to send some people into a panic, especially when it is targeting your demographic. In this case, the young adults of America. Typically, colon cancer affects the elderly and those with a family history of the disease, but since 1975, the community of gastroenterologists have seen a worrying increase in younger people diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer.

The American Cancer Society led a research study into age correlation the colon cancer. Across all people, rates of new cases of colon cancer have decreased by 3% since 2003. However, by isolating sections of the data by age group, different trends emerge. For example, the rate of new cases of colon cancer increased from 1% to 2% for adults between the ages of 20 and 39 in 2013. In adults aged 40 to 59, the rate also increased, but at a smaller degree, rising from 0.5% to 1%. They say these rates for recent cancer diagnosis are similar to the rates of the disease reported from the 1800s. Risk factors for colon cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and a diet devoid of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Snady from Gastrocare states that the symptoms of colon and rectal cancer include irregular changes in bowel habits and blood in stool resulting in a dark red or black color. Regular colon screenings and preventative polyp removal can drastically lower one’s risk of colon cancers. However, these procedures are generally thought of to be late term checkups that young adults don’t have to worry about. However as the research from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concludes, younger adults should start scheduling these check-ups as well.

If cancer develops at a young age and is allowed time to grow it can be deadly. Since younger people are less likely to get routine colon checks, colon and rectal cancers are given ample time to develop. Catching late term colon cancer when it has already been developing for years can make it untreatable. Doctors are hoping for advanced medicine to develop less invasive methods for detecting colon cancer, but for now, colonoscopies are the tried and true method of detection.

Recent studies and trends should change the stigma that colon cancer is a disease associated with aging. Modern risk factors are on the rise in young adults. Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are some of the main contributors to the disease. In a society of 9-5 office workers and who spend hours sitting in traffic, it’s vital for people to get at least an hour of exercising and movement a day to decrease their risk of developing a strain of cancer.

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