When you think of colon cancer, you may imagine it as a disease that primarily affects older adults. While it's true that colon cancer is more common in people over 50 years old, it can also affect younger people, including millennials and Gen Z. In fact, there has been a concerning increase in the number of young people being diagnosed with colon cancer in recent years.
Why Are Young People Being Diagnosed with Colon Cancer?
It's not entirely clear why younger people are being diagnosed with colon cancer at higher rates, but there are several factors that may play a role:
- Lifestyle factors: Younger generations tend to have less healthy lifestyles than their parents and grandparents. They are more likely to consume a diet high in processed foods and low in fiber, which can increase the risk of colon cancer.
- Genetics: Some cases of colon cancer in young people may be due to inherited genetic mutations.
- Delayed screening: Colon cancer screenings are typically recommended for people over age 50, but many young people are not getting screened. This can result in delayed diagnosis and treatment.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Young People?
The signs and symptoms of colon cancer in young people can be similar to those in older adults, including:
- Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or a change in stool consistency.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort.
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool.
- Unexplained weight loss.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you have a family history of colon cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about getting screened. It's important to catch colon cancer early, when it is most treatable.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of colon cancer, including:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
- Staying physically active.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Getting screened for colon cancer according to your healthcare provider's recommendations.
While colon cancer may be more common in older adults, it's important for young people to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to take steps to reduce their risk. By living a healthy lifestyle and getting screened as recommended, you can help protect yourself against this disease.