Cancer began to hunt for the young: tumors began to appear more often in people under 50

The incidence of cancer at a young age has increased primarily due to changes in people's diets.

The incidence of cancer at a young age has increased primarily due to changes in people’s diets.

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With each new generation of modern people, the risk of early development of cancer increases. To such disturbing conclusions came researchers at one of the largest medical centers in the United States, Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston. Experts analyzed the incidence of cancer in different years.

– People born in 1960 had a higher risk of developing cancer before the age of 50 than those born a decade earlier, in 1950, the authors of the scientific work give an example. – And this level of risk will continue to increase in subsequent generations.

Scientists list the types of tumors that are increasingly appearing in young people. Among them are cancers of the breast, intestines, esophagus, kidney, liver and pancreas. They have been especially noticeable since the 1990s. And the point here is not only in earlier and more accurate diagnosis, the researchers emphasize.

According to them, the incidence of cancer at a young age has increased primarily due to changes in people’s diets. The so-called western diet includes a large amount of highly processed foods. All of them – semi-finished products, fast food – are detrimental to the microflora of our intestines. Due to the imbalance of the microbiome, immunity suffers, chronic inflammation develops, and the risk of dangerous mutations in cells increases. And this becomes fertile ground for the development of cancer. Plus, obesity due to the same fast food, overeating with sweets is also a proven factor in increasing the threat of cancer.

– Of the 14 types of cancer we studied, eight were related to the digestive system. Diet directly affects the composition of the microbiome. And ultimately, these changes can affect disease risk and outcomes. [болезни]scientists note.

Among other reasons triggering the development of malignant tumors in modern people, the study named chronic lack of sleep, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and alcohol abuse.

How relevant are foreign data for our country? For a comment, we turned to the Honored Doctor of Russia, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Head of the Department of Telemedicine Technologies of the Chelyabinsk Regional Clinical Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine Oleg Gladkov.


– Oleg Alexandrovich, do you agree with the conclusions that cancer has become more common in people younger than 50 years old? Does this happen in our country too?

– The study of our foreign colleagues was carried out at a high level, there is no reason not to trust its results. If we talk about specific types of tumors that we began to see more often in young people in Russia, then first of all it is cervical cancer (CC). It has been proven to be caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV. Women contract HPV through unprotected sex. A chronic inflammatory process occurs, which eventually leads to the appearance of a tumor. The earlier onset of sexual activity over the past decades has led to the fact that the incidence of cervical cancer is getting younger.

Also, in young patients, even 18-20-year-olds, stomach cancer is quite common.

– It is difficult to imagine that by the age of 20 an unhealthy diet has led to cancer.

– Yes, in young people, most types of cancer are associated with hereditary factors (that is, such tumors were in family members. – Ed.). So far, we know very few genes, certain variants of which predispose to the development of certain tumors. But genetic research is advancing. As more and more data is available, we are beginning to understand more and more the processes of development of various types of cancer.


Today, scientists know most about three genes, mutations in which greatly increase the risk of developing cancer. It:

– CDH1. “Mutations in this gene lead to stomach cancer with a probability of over 90%,” says Oleg Gladkov. – People with this genetic variant are recommended to undergo regular examinations from the age of 15-16 to detect adverse changes as early as possible. In Japan, with such mutations, the issue of prophylactic removal of the stomach is even being considered.

– BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations in both of these genes increase the risk of breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.

If parents and other relatives (uncles, aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters) have cases of such types of cancer in the family, then young people are recommended to take a genetic analysis. If unfavorable mutations are detected, the doctor selects an individual regimen of observation and examinations.

As a rule, genetic studies are carried out at the expense of the patient – this analysis is not included in the basic program of medical care for CHI.

“Genetic engineering is developing very actively. I think that over time we will learn how to correct mutations that play a decisive role in the development of tumors,” says Oleg Gladkov.

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