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Huge Surge in Cancer for People Under 50: Here's What Researchers Blame


If you're concerned about your health, you might want to set aside the burgers, steaks, and alcohol for a while. 

New research suggests an increase in cancer cases among young people could be related to red meat, salt, and alcohol, The New York Post reports. 

A study published Tuesday in the journal BMJ Oncology gives the results of data gathered between 1990 and 2019 that found a 79% surge in new cancer cases among people under the age of 50 over the past 30 years. 

slider img 2The researchers used data from the Global Burden of Disease 2019 study that examined the pervasiveness of 29 cancers in more than 200 countries around the world. Focusing in on people aged 14 to 49, the team of researchers from Zhejiang University School of Medicine and the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute looked at the number of new cancer cases, deaths, health repercussions, and risk factors in the target group. 

Just for the year 2019, the early-onset cancer cases in that age group totaled 3.26 million, an increase of 79.1% since 1990, according to The Post

The study also reported an increase in cancer-related deaths by almost 28% since 1990. Some of the cancers with higher mortality rates included breast, trachea, lung, bowel, and stomach. But it was new cases of early-onset windpipe and prostate cancers that rose the fastest between 1990 and 2019. 

North America, Australasia, and Western Europe had the highest rate of early-onset cancers in 2019, according to the study.  

"The rising incidence of early-onset cancers may partially attribute to increasing uptake of screening and early detection in developed regions and countries," the study's authors noted.

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Based on the trends over the past three decades, the researchers estimate that the global number of new early-onset cancer cases and associated deaths will rise by a further 31% and 21%, respectively, in 2030, with those in their 40s the most at risk. 

The researchers said genetic factors are likely to have a role, but the data indicates those with diets high in red meat and salt, and low in fruit and milk – combined with alcohol and tobacco use – are the main risk factors underlying the most common cancers among those under 50. Physical inactivity, excess weight, and high blood sugar were also contributory factors.

"Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, the restriction of tobacco and alcohol consumption, and appropriate outdoor activity, could reduce the burden of early-onset cancer," the authors wrote. 

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