Colorectal cancer rates DOUBLED among white under-50s from the Western US in 20 years, study reveals
- Between 1995 and 2015, rates of colorectal cancer surged among younger people in the US
- Rates rose dramatically in states like Washington, where twice as many people had colorectal cancer in 2015 as did in 1995, Ohio State University study found
- Among black and Hispanic Americans, there was little change, but steep increases were seen among white people in the West
- Neither obesity nor heavy drinking were correlated with increases in colorectal cancer
Rates of colorectal cancer among young people have increased by as much as two-fold in the US since 1995, new research reveals.
The disease is hitting Americans under 50 harder and earlier than ever before, but the uptick began over two decades ago, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society (ACS).
The obesity epidemic has been the prime suspect in the continuous rise in colorectal cancer – but the latest research found that neither this trend of the rise in drinking in the US was correlated with the changing cancer rates.
One thing was clear, however: white Americans in the West account for the majority of the surge in colorectal cancer rates.
Colorectal cancer is surging among young Americans, particularly those who are white and live in the West, where rates increased by as much as nearly four percent year-over-year (dark)
Cancer, in general, and colorectal cancer, in particular, was once thought of as a disease of old age, with the exceptions of heartbreaking childhood cancers like leukemia and DIPG.
But in recent years, tragic reports of men and women in their 40s and even 30s dying of colorectal cancer have become more and more common occurrences.
According to the new ACS report, rates of colon cancer increased by 0.7 percent each year between 1995 and 2015.
Rates of rectal cancer surged more dramatically, climbing a steady 1.7 percent each year over the same period.
At first blush, these may not seem like extreme rises, but some population groups have been affected much more than others.
While colorectal cancer rates remained quite stable for black and Hispanic Americans, they climbed ever higher among white and Western Americans.
Each year, colon and rectal cancers increased over twice as fast among white people in 10 states as they did in the country as a whole.
Six out of those 10 states were in the West, including Washington, where colorectal cancer rates have nearly doubled.
Colorado, too, saw a dramatic increase of nearly 60 percent.
Increases in rates of rectal cancer were steeper across the board, the research team, based at Ohio Sate University, found.
Increases were ‘mostly confined to whites,’ and were seen among that population in 40 out of 47 states that supplied enough data to be analyzed.
Though increases were much more dramatic in Western states, rates remained highest in Southern states.
There, rates of obesity are also highest, and scientists have long suspected that excess body weight is helping to literally feed cancer.
But when the Ohio State University researchers assessed rates of both obesity and excessive drinking – another known cancer risk factor – and compared them to state increases and rates of colorectal cancer, the categories didn’t match up.
Neither heavy drinking nor obesity were linked to increased rates of colorectal cancer among young people.
‘Early-onset colorectal cancer is increasing in the US for unknown reasons,’ the authors wrote.
‘Geographic differences in the trend could contribute to etiologic hypotheses but are unknown.’
So, for now, the alarming increases in young people dying from colorectal cancer that is often dismissed as IBS remains a mystery.