Because the database does not include details on obesity and other risk factors nor mode of detection for the cancer diagnosis statistics, the results do not provide sufficient information to determine a causal relationship, according to the study. They found that the most significant rise of obesity-related cancers is among the 25-49 age group, particularly in millennials who are in their 20s and 30s. Among 30 to 34-year-olds, the average annual increase was more than twice that.
Obesity rates have been rising across age groups for years. The risk of colorectal, uterine corpus (endometrial), pancreas and gall bladder cancers in millennials, for example, was found to be about double the rate baby boomers faced at the same age, according to a press release on the report.
While the United States has the highest obesity levels in the world, the UK's levels have risen by 92 per cent since 1991, compared with a rise of 65 per cent in the USA, making it the sixth fattest nation in the developed world.
It has also risen sharply in other rich nations and, more recently, the developing world.
Now, according to a latest study, obesity increases the risk of developing cancer in young adults.
Pancreatic cancer cases rose by 4.34 per cent a year among 25 to 29-year-olds over the last two decades. About one in 12 cancer cases in the United States are caused by excess weight, the researchers noted.
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From 1980 to 2014 - when cancer claimed some 20 million lives - mortality dropped by 20 percent, from 240 to 192 deaths per 100,000 people, due in part to reduced tobacco use. Obesity is now one of the most preventable causes of cancer in both the United States and the UK - around 1 in 12 cases in the U.S. are caused by excess weight and more than 1 in 20 in the UK. Obesity often leads to cancer in older adults, but now it has increased in young adults. They looked at 30 types of cancers, including 12 that are considered obesity-related.
The analysis showed that cancer incidence is rising in young adults for 6 of the 12 obesity-related cancers: colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, multiple myeloma, and pancreas. In contrast, rates in successive younger birth cohorts declined or stabilized in all but 2 of 18 other, non-obesity related cancers, including smoking-related and infection-related cancers.
"This study should be a wake-up call to all Americans, young and old alike", the American Society of Clinical Oncology said in a statement. This may be related, partly, to the rising obesity epidemic found around the world.
"Although the obesity epidemic is a quite plausible scenario, we need more knowledge to explain the trends with additional known and unknown cancer risk factors that may have contributed to these trends", she says. "Less than half of primary care physicians regularly assess body mass index despite national screening recommendations", he said.
While scientists are not sure exactly how there is "quite convincing evidence" that excess body weight increases the risks of some cancers, says Sung, principal scientist of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society.