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Obesity-fueled cancers on the rise in millennials

February 04, 2019 - 10:24 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- New analysis finds a troubling health trend among millennials.

The American Cancer Society says cancers fueled by obesity are rising in Americans between the ages of 24 and 49.

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"The risk of cancer is increasing in young adults for half of the obesity-related cancers, with the increase steeper in progressively younger ages," said co-author Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of Surveillance and Health Services Research for the American Cancer Society.

Jemal says the trend could reverse decades of progress.

"The findings from this study are a warning for increased burden of obesity-related cancer in older adults in the future," said Jemal, "potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades."

The study found increases in cancers typically seen in elderly patients -- usually those in their 60s or 70s -- including colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic, and multiple myeloma.

"This study shows the incidence of cancer associated with obesity has been rising dramatically in groups of individuals born in more recent decades," said MD Anderson Cancer Center's Dr. George Chang.

Chang was not involved in the study, but warned against overgeneralizing.

"The study was not set up to establish causation," Chang said. "We know there are many factors that are associated with both obesity and cancer, such as lack of exercise and poor diet. How much each of those factors contribute to cancer is less clear."

The World Health Organization says obesity has reached 'epidemic proportions.' More than 40 percent of Americans are obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.