While the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably captured the attention of much of the healthcare system and the general public, it is all too easy to overlook other pressing health concerns. A startling 30 % rise in cancer diagnoses among people aged fifteen to thirty-nine between 1973 and 2015 was reported in a recent study in the United States. Among these cancers are those of the kidney, liver, pancreas, breast, colon, and esophagus.
A cancer diagnosis is always heart-wrenching, irrespective of a person’s age and gender. It is even more upsetting for younger adults as they are at a critical juncture in life when they work on being more independent, starting careers, and establishing new relationships. Young adults also have the lowest rates of health insurance coverage and are frequently less financially stable than older adults. Before diving deep into this cesspool of grief, let us try and understand the reason behind this upward trend.
1. Up, Up, and Away!
For starters, why are the rates upscaling? Well, now the exact reason is apparent. The potential risk factors for early-onset cancer include erratic alcohol consumption, less snooze hours, tobacco abuse, obesity, and excessive consumption of processed food. Surprisingly, despite the fact that adult sleep duration has not changed significantly over time, researchers found that children are now sleeping significantly less than they did decades ago.
The early-life exposome, which encompasses one’s diet, lifestyle, weight, environmental exposure, and microbiota, has undergone significant change in recent decades, according to a thorough assessment carried out by researchers. Thus, the westernized diet and way of life were identified as potential causes of the rising incidence of early-onset cancer.
2. Do Genetics Play a Role?
Our genes come from both of our parents. Each child has a 50 % chance of inheriting a gene flaw if one parent carries it. Thus, while some kids will inherit the faulty gene and have a higher risk of developing cancer, others will not. Being born with defective genes does not guarantee that a person will develop cancer. However, they are more likely than others to develop specific cancers. According to genetic experts, 5 to 10 of every 100 cancer cases are thought to be caused by inherited bad genes. But with all that being said, we need to understand that our genes may be the loaded gun, but our lifestyle plays the most important role – pulling the trigger of that loaded gun.
3. Let Us Break the Ice
Although cancer is not preventable, certain lifestyle modifications can for sure help us reduce the potential risk. Those include avoiding highly processed food and ones with animal fat. Cutting down on sugar intake and having healthier ways of dealing with that sweet tooth of yours helps you ace the game! And obviously, let go of awful habits such as smoking and drinking mindlessly. If eliminating them completely is not an option, it is advisable to work on moderation. Make sure to have a well-balanced nutritious diet with all those colorful veggies and fruits and incorporate those daily steps in if regular exercise is not something that you would be up for. Have a proper sleep routine and snuggle away, giving all those body cells some time to rest and rejuvenate.
4. Hold Your Horses
Even if you cross the T’s and dot the I’s, follow all the rules, and have the healthiest possible lifestyle, it does not mean that you cannot get cancer. Because as we said, cancer can be caused due to various factors. Hence, do not sprint away from those yearly check-ups! Those routine check-ups are important as they help you catch a disease or cancer at its very initial stage. Remember, prevention is better than cure.
Cancer does sound scary and, at a young age, even more, scarier. However, in general, cancer treatments are more tolerable in younger patients. Targeted medications also increase the likelihood of long-term progression-free survival in children and adolescents. Let us look forward to a better future by adopting the right lifestyle. Stay healthy!