Up until recent times, cancer typically affected people aged 50 years and older. That’s no longer the case. Since the 1990s, the incidence of certain cancers has been rising among those under 50 years old. The study included 14 different cancers, including breast, colorectal, and prostate. Since cancer can be set in motion 20 or 30 years before it’s diagnosed, researchers looked for answers as to what changes could have caused this dramatic and worrisome change.
Scientists noted that increases in early-onset cancer correlate with certain societal changes, including more westernized diets, lifestyles, and environments. These changes, which started around the 1950s, explain the rising incidence of early-onset cancer that started in the 1990s. Their effects would have taken about that much time to accumulate.
In addition to westernized diets that are high in saturated fats, red meat, processed meat, sugar, and ultra-processed foods yet low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber, several other societal factors were identified:
• Lower breastfeeding rates
• Increased alcohol consumption
• Reduced sleep among children due to bright lights during the night
• Night shift work
• Reproductive changes including reduced age of puberty, increased contraceptive use
• Less physical activity and a more sedentary lifestyle
• Increased rates of type 2 diabetes
• Higher antibiotic use
Nutrition is foundational: The researchers wrote that 8 of the 14 cancers studied relate to the digestive system, demonstrating the importance of our microbiome in cancer risk. We know that our gut plays a vital role for our body, including our immune system. Upgrading what we feed our body is at the heart of cancer prevention. The article also identifies several other ways to help protect yourself and your family from the scourge of cancer.
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