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Colon Cancer in Young People: What Makes Them Predisposed? , Health News


Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon and rectum are part of the digestive system, responsible for processing food and eliminating waste. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide and the third most common cancer worldwide, accounting for approximately 10% of all cancer cases.

It usually develops from abnormal growths called polyps, which may initially be benign but can turn cancerous over time. These polyps can grow along the inner lining of the colon or rectum and, if left untreated, can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis.

In recent years there has been an alarming trend of colon cancer affecting young people. Although traditionally, colon cancer has been associated with older people, there has been a marked increase in diagnoses among younger adults.

Dr. Manish Sharma, Medical Oncologist, Senior Action Cancer Hospital, New Delhi and Medical Oncologist, Cancer Care Clinic, Faridabad, said, “Although colon cancer has some genetic predisposition, external factors can be responsible for the significant increase in incidence. Smoking, inflammatory bowel disease, poor diet, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer”.

The increasing incidence of colon cancer in young adults underscores the importance of increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease. Although symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss are often associated with colon cancer, they may be overlooked or attributed to other factors in younger people. Increased awareness and proactive screening are essential for early detection and treatment.

Dr. Manish Sharma suggests a few lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of colon cancer:

Reduce red meat intake: Colon cancer has been linked to heavy red meat consumption, especially when it comes to processed or charred meat. When cooked, it can affect the production of cancer-causing compounds due to its high fat and protein content. Processing or cooking techniques used on red meat, such as grilling or smoking, may also be related. When cooked at such high temperatures, they can produce carcinogens linked to cancer. Instead, switch to plant protein and lean protein foods like fish and chicken are two other great sources of protein.

Eat less sugar: Frequent consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to an increased risk of breast and colon cancer, among other cancers. Consuming large amounts of sugar can increase insulin resistance and obesity, two conditions that increase the likelihood of developing various cancers. In addition, the metabolism of sugars may contribute to the proliferation of cancer cells. Dr. Sharma notes that while research has been done, the results are conflicting on whether artificial sweeteners increase cancer risk. Just as he advises eating sugar in moderation, he also recommends using artificial sweeteners in moderation.

Also read: Adding sugar substitutes to your tea and coffee? Beware of these potential health problems

Eat plenty of fiber: Including fiber in our diet has many benefits, such as reducing constipation, controlling blood sugar spikes, and strengthening heart and gut health. Additionally, it can reduce the chances of colon cancer. Dietary fiber has several important roles in preventing colon cancer, according to a 2018 review of research. These roles include promoting good bowel movements and reducing the amount of carcinogens produced during digestion.

Cut down on alcohol: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that alcohol consumption increases the risk of mouth and throat, colon and rectal, liver and breast cancers, among other cancer types. The National Cancer Institute states that even moderate drinking is associated with a higher risk of colon cancer. This is because alcohol is broken down by the body into the chemical acetaldehyde, which destroys cell DNA and causes cells to start multiplying uncontrollably, which is how malignant tumors develop.

Dr. Manish Sharma concludes, “The rising incidence of colon cancer in young people is a multifaceted problem that demands the attention of health care providers, policy makers and the general public. “By addressing lifestyle factors, raising awareness, and expanding access to screening and preventive services, we can work to reverse this alarming trend and reduce the burden of colon cancer on younger generations.”

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