A recent study, published in the BMJ Oncology journal, has uncovered a disturbing trend – an almost 80% increase in cancer diagnoses among individuals under the age of 50 over the past thirty years.
This surge in early-onset cancer cases has prompted calls for further investigation and enhanced preventive measures.
The comprehensive study, which examined data from 204 countries encompassing 29 different types of cancer, delved into various aspects, including new cases, mortality rates, health implications, and contributing risk factors for individuals aged 14 to 49.
The analysis focused on changes that occurred between 1990 and 2019.
Between 1990 and 2019, the global incidence of early-onset cancer skyrocketed from 1.82 million cases to a staggering 3.26 million.
Alarmingly, the mortality rate for adults in their 40s, 30s, or younger increased by 27%, resulting in over a million individuals under the age of 50 succumbing to cancer each year.
Experts attribute these rising numbers to a combination of factors, including population growth, increased screening, technological advancements, and lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor dietary habits.
Sayed Ali, an oncologist at the St John of God Subiaco Hospital in Perth, emphasized the significance of addressing lifestyle factors to combat the global surge in cancer cases, particularly among young people.
Identified as major risk factors, diets high in red meat and salt, low in fruits and dairy, along with tobacco and alcohol use, were found to be primary contributors to the most common cancers in individuals under 50.
The report highlights the urgency of promoting a healthy lifestyle, including adopting a nutritious diet, reducing tobacco and alcohol consumption, and encouraging physical activity, as essential measures to alleviate the burden of early-onset cancer.
Breast cancer emerged as the leading type of cancer in terms of both cases and related deaths, with 13.7 and 3.5 occurrences per 100,000 of the global population, respectively.
Windpipe and prostate cancers exhibited the most rapid increases in early-onset cases, with estimated annual percentage changes of 2.28% and 2.23%, respectively. On the contrary, early-onset liver cancer cases saw an annual decrease of approximately 2.88%.
In 2019, a staggering 1.06 million individuals under 50 lost their lives to cancer, marking a 27% increase from the 1990 statistics. Apart from breast cancer, windpipe, lung, stomach, and bowel cancers were among the deadliest. Notably, the sharpest rise in deaths occurred in individuals diagnosed with kidney or ovarian cancer.
This concerning trend was observed globally, with North America, Oceania, and Western Europe being the regions most affected by early-onset cancers in 2019.
However, low- and middle-income countries were also significantly impacted, with Oceania, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia recording the highest death rates among individuals below 50. Particularly in these regions, early-onset cancer had a more profound effect on women, leading to greater health deterioration and mortality.Email your news TIPS to Editor@kahawatungu.com or WhatsApp +254707482874