Experts are urging public health measures to address the risks associated with colorectal cancer

Experts are urging public health measures to address the risks associated with colorectal cancer ...

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic believe that early onset colorectal cancer, defined as being diagnosed when younger than 50, continues to steadily increase in the United States and other higher-income countries. This increase, coupled with a decrease in later-onset cases due primarily to screening, have changed the median age at diagnosis from 72 years in the early 2000s to 66 years now.

We are seeing a significant increase in the number of younger patients with colorectal cancer at Mayo Clinic, as is happening around the country. "It''s important to recognize that most cases are without a known hereditary basis and have no identifiable cause," says Dr. Frank Sinicrope, an oncologist and gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic Cancer Centerin Minnesota. The article is authored by The New England Journal of Medicine.

"Public health measures are necessary to address risk factors for colorectal cancer starting in early childhood, including poor dietary habits and physical inactivity," Dr. Sinicrope says. While the specific causes of early onset colorectal cancer remain elusive, some scientists claim that diets with high levels of red and processed meat, as well as refined grains and processed sugar, may alter gut microbial composition, resulting in chronic inflammation, increased obesity rates, and a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

"Evidence suggests that a plant-based diet and more physical activity may aid in developing a more favorable gut microbiome, which may therefore reduce the risk of colorectal cancer," says Dr. Sinicrope.

He believes that ongoing research involving large cohorts and international consortia intend to develop early life exposures that are most beneficial to the development of early onset colorectal cancer.

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