Furthermore, "trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden", Siegel said.
"Some of the behaviors that are thought to drive the obesity epidemic, like a more sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary patterns, are also independent risk factors for colorectal cancer", Siegel told KCBS.
"Educational campaigns are needed to alert clinicians and the general public about this increase to help reduce delays in diagnosis, which are so prevalent in young people, but also to encourage healthier eating and more active lifestyles to try to reverse this trend".
Screening for colon cancer is now recommended to begin at age 50 for people who are at average risk of the disease, but a new study finds colorectal cancer rates are rising for much younger adults.
Most of the nation's 135,000 annual cases and 50,000 deaths related to colon and rectal cancer still occur among people over age 55. Because screening can catch polyps before they turn into cancer, it is the best explanation for falling colorectal cancer rates in older adults, Weber says.
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Between the mid 1980s and 2013, colon cancer incidence rates for people in their 20s and 30s rose by one to 2.4 percent per year. But by 2013, they were just as likely to develop rectal cancer and only 12 per cent less likely to suffer from colon cancer.
Right now, screening is recommended for adults over age 50 and for younger adults with certain genetic syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders or family histories.
The study, which included scientists at the NCI, didn't determine the reason for the shift.
The study confirms what many doctors have been seeing among their younger patients, said Nilofer Azad, an oncologist at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, who was not involved in the research.
Colorectal cancer rates have been declining overall in the United States since the mid-1980s, but certain age groups are seeing a concerning rise in cases, according to new research. For example, in adults ages 20 to 29, the rate of colon cancer increased by 2.4 percent each year, and for adults ages 30 to 39, the rate increased by 1 percent each year. The researchers called for expanding screening for the disease earlier in life. As a runner and vegetarian, she said she didn't see the need to undergo screening.
Americans in their early 50s and younger - Gen Xers and millennials - are experiencing significant increases in colon and rectal cancer, a new study reports. In adults 40 to 54, rates increased by 0.5 to one per cent per a year from the mid-1990s through 2013. However, making these changes can take time, so it's important to educate younger adults and their doctors about the rising rates of the disease, the researchers said.