If you're a member of Generation X or the Millennial Generation, you probably haven't given much thought to the bevy of health screenings recommended for those over age 50 -- from colonoscopies to mammograms and everything in between. However, a recent study has indicated an alarming rise in the incidence of colon cancer among younger Americans, even during a time when the risk for older Americans is dropping. Read on to learn more about what could be contributing to this increase in colon cancer diagnoses, as well as what you may want to do to ensure your own risk of developing cancer remains as low as possible.
What is causing the rise in colon cancer among young people?
Scientists still haven't pinpointed a single cause behind this increase in colon cancer diagnoses, but suspect that it may be attributed to a combination of several factors. Sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits (particularly diets that consist of a lot of red meat and not much fiber) have long been shown to increase the risk of this type of cancer, and Millennials with relatively fast metabolisms may be able to slide by with even worse diet and exercise habits than their Boomer cohorts.
Another factor deals with screening. The rate of colon cancer for those over age 50 has dropped in recent years, in large part due to greater awareness of cancer risk and more individuals taking advantage of recommended screening tools like colonoscopies. On the other hand, those under 50 may not seek out this diagnostic exam until (or unless) they're dealing with more serious symptoms of colon cancer, like abdominal pain or bloody stools, at which point the cancer may be too advanced to successfully treat.
What can you do to decrease your individual risk of developing colon cancer?
In addition to improving your health habits, you may want to investigate earlier screening for colon cancer -- especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, or another condition that can impact your digestive system or have a family history of cancer. Having a colonoscopy performed before your fifties can be uncommon, but is one of the best ways to spot any polyps that could later become cancerous. The results of your first colonoscopy may indicate whether you're in the clear for years to come or will need to repeat this screening test on a regular basis in your thirties and forties.
To learn more, contact a company like Lincoln Surgical Group PC.