Colorectal Cancer: The Role of Diet in Rising Cases Among Young Adults

by Ella

Recent studies have shown a concerning trend: colorectal cancer, typically associated with older adults, is increasingly affecting younger individuals. Scientists are now delving into the potential link between dietary habits and the surge in early-onset colorectal cancer cases.

Researchers from Ohio State University have drawn attention to the impact of the “Western diet” characterized by high fat and low fiber intake. This dietary pattern, they argue, disrupts the delicate balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, triggering inflammation and accelerating cellular aging, thus heightening the risk of colorectal cancer.


Presenting their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, the OSU scientists revealed that individuals diagnosed with early-onset colorectal cancer exhibited a biological age approximately 15 years older than their chronological age. In contrast, late-onset colorectal cancer patients showed alignment between their biological and chronological ages.


Biological age, a measure of cellular aging influenced by genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices, plays a crucial role in cancer susceptibility. The researchers highlighted Fusobacterium, a bacterium commonly found in the mouth, as a potential contributor to colorectal cancer development.


Fusobacterium has garnered attention from cancer researchers for its suspected involvement in colorectal cancer progression. Susan Bullman, a scientist exploring the link between microbes and cancer, emphasized the manipulable nature of microbes, suggesting that targeting them could offer preventive strategies against disease progression.


While scientists continue to unravel the complexities of early-onset colorectal cancer, the incidence of this condition among young adults is escalating globally. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 20% of new colorectal cancer cases in 2019 occurred in individuals under 55, marking a notable increase from 11% in 1995.

Research has also underscored the potential protective role of dietary fiber against various cancers, including esophageal, gastric, colon, and rectal cancer. Thus, promoting dietary habits rich in fiber may serve as a preventive measure against colorectal cancer, contributing to improved public health outcomes.



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