Even with all of the advances in medical science the world has seen in the last few years, there are still major issues affecting young, healthy people. In particular, colorectal cancer rates among young Canadians are rising, and it may have to do with people gaining more weight in recent years.
According to a study published in The Lancet, colorectal cancer rates have decreased overall in developed countries including Australia, Denmark, and Canada. However, in those same countries, the prevalence of colorectal cancer increased among people under the age of 50. Canada saw an increase of 3.4% in this age group.
So what is causing this increase among young people? According to Colorectal Cancer Canada, factors including weight gain, smoking, drug use, and excess drinking can all contribute to colorectal cancer.
Dr. Leah Smith, senior manager of surveillance at the Canadian Cancer Society, told Global News, "We know that excess body weight is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer. Rates of obesity are increasing in our population so that could explain the increase.”
Screening for these cancers may be uncomfortable, but the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology recommends that anyone who has a history of colorectal cancer in their family start getting screened earlier. Screening can greatly lower the risk of death from colorectal cancer, as it's one of the most treatable forms of cancer.
Roughly 26,800 Canadians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. It's estimated that one in 13 Canadian men and one in 16 Canadian women will develop some form of colorectal cancer. The five-year survival rate for this form of cancer is 63 percent in men and 65 percent in women.
Seeing a doctor regularly and knowing your family's medical history can aid in preventing colorectal cancer. Just because someone is young, doesn't mean it can't happen to them.