A new study finds colorectal cancer is more of a problem for younger adults than ever before.

A new study funded by the American Cancer Society has found that colorectal cancer rates for Americans between 20 and 29 years old have been rising at a surprising rate. The cancer typically affects adults over the age of 50, however since the mid-1980s, rates have been dropping for older adults—ages 50 and over—but rising in younger populations, and rising fastest for people in their 20s.

The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, calls for the health industry to consider lowering the age that is recommended for patients to receive colonoscopies.

Researchers documented a three percent increase of bowel cancer diagnoses for young adults between 1983 and 2013. The research points to climbing obesity rates within the United States as a potential factor for the uptick in cases—combined with lifestyle aspects such as limited exercise, increased drinking, unhealthy fast food, and the drive-thrus that serve these meals. As the researchers explain, "specific, unhealthy dietary elements, like high–glycemic load carbohydrates, may trigger a cascade of detrimental health effects beyond caloric content."  

To corroborate the theory that diet is playing a role, researchers noted that incidences of colorectal cancer in Japan is low, but jumps considerably among Japanese who emigrate to the US: "Introduction of a Western-style high-fat, low-fiber diet initiates inflammation ... [which is] consistent with the one-generation jump in [colorectal cancer] risk that has been observed among Japanese migrants to the United States...."  

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