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Colorectal Cancer: No Longer a Disease of the Aging…

by Mila McManus, MD

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death for both men and women

During the 2000’s, colorectal cancer declined among people aged 50 and older largely due to an increase in cancer screenings.  Colorectal cancer (of the colon and/or rectum) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in the United States. 

The concerning and interesting change in the data is that the incidence among younger adults has doubled.  In addition, more advanced disease is being diagnosed. This means that the proportion of individuals of all ages presenting with advanced-stage colorectal cancer increased from 52% in the mid-2000’s to 60% in 2019.

We found it interesting that Medscape’s article points out the senior author, Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD from the American Cancer Society reporting the new data “pointed out that more than half of all cases and deaths are associated with modifiable risk factors such as smoking, and unhealthy diet, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and excess body weight”; yet the very next sentence from Medscape is that “it remains unclear why rates are rising among younger adults and diagnosed at more advanced stages”! 

Unclear? Hardly.  The current parenting generation was raised largely on the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the FDA Food Plate recommendations, both full of sugar, processed carbohydrates, and fast food. Moreover, obesity has reached epidemic proportions. COVID, along with excessive time sitting while using television, cell phones, computers, and gaming equipment, have promoted less activity. Environmental chemicals, harmful food additives, and excessive use of plastics are also contributors.  We cannot ignore the impact that stress and trauma have on health either.  While we will all die of something eventually, and we cannot promise anyone a disease free life, we do know that lifestyle choices toward good habits matter greatly. Healthy food, quality sleep, regular exercise, good relationships, stress management, and attention to spiritual matters all contribute, in powerful ways, to overall good health.  Teaching young people better health habits is long overdue and, in and of itself, would dramatically reduce the volume of death and disease.

Choose wisely for your family and yourself. Encourage a healthy lifestyle for friends and family. Demonstrate it to neighbors in your community. Let’s help each other make wiser choices. Let’s not wait until Medscape figures it out! And, oh yea, please stay up to date on your cancer screenings!

Live Well. Be Well.


Colorectal Cancer Incidence Doubled in Younger Adults – Medscape – March 2, 2023


By |2023-04-05T11:57:41-05:00April 6th, 2023|Articles, General|