Published on June 30th, 2019 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Young Adults Dying From Colorectal Cancer
by Doug Pucci
It’s a startling and alarming fact that more young adults in their 20s and 30s are not just being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, they’re dying from it at higher rates. A recently published JAMA Network research letter states that while the overall mortality rate for colorectal cancer has gone down, the mortality rate for adults under 55 has risen.
Researchers did not consider this to be a unique phenomenon, but rather a frightening trend that appears to have surfaced in the 1990s. Dr. Thomas Weber, of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, expresses that something truly important is going on.
More research is being done as to what’s causing this trend. Environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors have been tied to increased risks such as diets high in processed foods, alcohol, obesity and sedentary lifestyles. But researchers are now focusing on some new angles, including the possibility of extended use of antibiotics during adult years, because long-term use of antibiotics can negatively impact the gut microbiome, making people susceptible to a wide range of diseases.
Most doctors are hesitant to recommend that young adults get cancer screenings in their 20s, but research is being considered to determine whether this might be the new guideline. One reason for the hesitation is the high cost; the other is that even physicians aren’t convinced that the benefits from colonoscopies in general outweigh the potential harm.
There are a number of frequently occurring complications associated with colonoscopies, including a torn rectum or colon wall. Approximately two percent of 300,000 Medicare patients that underwent colonoscopies ended up in the emergency room within a week; torn rectums and colon walls can be so serious as to be life-threatening. False positives, which require additional testing, are also an issue, putting undue stress and increased costs on the patient.
Prevention is always the best medicine, and there’s a lot we can do to help prevent colorectal cancer in people of all ages. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research states that maintaining a healthy diet and weight, along with physical activity, can help prevent about 50 percent of colorectal cancers and approximately one-third of other common cancers. Some foods that lower the risk of colorectal cancer are leafy green vegetables, additional fiber from whole seeds and nuts (chia, flax, hemp) and whole fruits, including berries
By swapping processed foods, especially meats like hot dogs, for these choices and moving toward a more plant-based diet, young adults can lower their colorectal cancer risks. Parents can help by instilling healthy lifestyle choices in their young children; combining better food choices and daily exercise can help significantly lessen the risk of young adult cancers and create a healthy pathway into the future.
Dr. Doug Pucci, DC, FAAIM, adheres to a functional medicine approach to patient care and believes in treating underlying, root causes of disease. In practice, he provides nutrition, advanced testing for hormones and gut microbiome, blood testing, epigenetics, and brain/body well-being. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.