New colorectal cancer cases trending younger

The increasingly global adoption of a "Westernized" diet is likely influencing this change, a gastroenterologist says.

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Adults under age 50 are part of a large wave of colorectal cancer, which is on track to become the leading cause of cancer deaths for the age group by 2030. 

A full explanation for the increased incidence eludes experts, but diet appears to be an influential factor," says Dr. Rachel Issaka, a UW Medicine gastroenterologist.

“This increase in the early onset colorectal cancer, it's not just here in the United States. We see it worldwide. And it tends to be in places that have a Westernized diet. What everyone can do is to make modifications to their diet,” said Issaka. “That might look like eating more plant-based foods, increasing dietary fiber, decreasing the amount of alcohol we consume, cutting out tobacco, and increased exercise. Because again, that westernized lifestyle is also associated with being sedentary. And we believe that really that is a driver of some of the early onset colon cancers that we're seeing.”

Read more about screening for colorectal cancer in a Noteworthy post.

Download broadcast-ready video and audio assets with Issaka discussing colorectal cancer.

UW Medicine