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Will Colon Cancer be the largest cause of death among young people? (OP-ED)

The fight against cancer has had successes over the years. However, recent trends have found the frightening condition spreading towards a younger demographic. Recent years have found cancer diagnoses accelerating among young adults.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 2023, around 4% of cancer diagnoses were adolescents and young adults between age 15 to 39 in the United States. It’s unlikely to be stopping anytime soon as, according to The American Cancer Society, cancer diagnoses within the United States are expected to be up 30% by 2030.

It’s a scary prospect to reckon with and has many medical researchers kickstarting massive efforts to figure out the cause. While many factors could point to a cause, recent research presented at the annual American Association of Cancer Research conference gave some new insight. According to Washington University School of Medicine Dr. Yin Cao, the senior author of the research, and her team found that accelerated aging within an affected person’s cells played a role in these early cancer cases.

This was done through screening a selection of people participating in the UK Biobank data registry for nine “blood-based markers” that correlate towards accelerated aging. Those that showed a high risk of those markers were under the age of 55 and had a diagnosis of early cancers. 

Additionally, the research found that participants who showed the highest amount of accelerated aging were twice at risk for developing cancers like early-onset lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and uterine cancer. While the research couldn’t determine what the exact cause is of this accelerated aging, in an interview with CNN, Cao stated that more research would need to be done over time on more diverse study groups to determine the likely different factors that cause these risks to develop.

So until more information, many medical experts like Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Chair of Cancer Genetics and Genomics Dr. Joyce Ohm, say to take preventative measures to lower cancer risk in young people like diet, exercise, and avoiding cancer-causing chemicals.

However, with how slow-acting lawmakers within the US can be, and how much politics have intertwined within the health and safety measures within the country, it’s uncertain whether future measures to combat these issues won’t be hampered.

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