"This finding signals an increased burden of obesity-related cancers in older adults in the future and calls for actions to mitigate this burden", he said in an email.
In contrast to obesity-related cancers, rates of most of the 18 non-obesity related cancers did not increase among young adults during the study period. The risk of colorectal, uterine corpus (endometrial), pancreas and gall bladder cancers in millennials, for example, was found to be about double the rate baby boomers faced at the same age, according to a press release on the report.
Building on earlier research suggesting a link between obesity and more frequent colon cancers in young adults, Jamel and colleagues analysed all cancer cases from 1995 to 2015 in 25 U.S. states home to 67 percent of the population.
Mirroring the decades-long increase in obesity rates in the US, cancers that are thought to be driven at least in part by excess weight are also on the rise among people under age 50, a new study suggests.
The study authors encourage doctors to continue monitoring their patients' weight and to counsel them about the health risks of obesity while promoting physical activity and diet changes. "Cancer trends in young adults often serve as a sentinel for the future disease burden in older adults, among whom most cancer occurs".
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According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2016, obesity prevalence in the US increased from 13.9% to 18.5% among children and adolescents and from 30.5% to 39.6% among adults.
The data covered 30 types of cancer, 12 of which had previously been linked to obesity.
This study was funded by the Intramural Research Department of the American Cancer Society and the Intramural Research Program of the National Cancer Institute. And while we don't yet know exactly how obesity may be driving up cancer rates, it's "critically important" to see observational studies that that show an association between the two, he noted. On the bright side, the study also found that the cancers linked to smoking and infections have decreased among the youth.
Experts said more research is needed to explore what is causing the rising rates because this study does not prove obesity is the only reason.
Researchers say that these cancers normally get detected in patients in their 60s and 70s.
Over the past few decades, scientists have uncovered an increasing body of evidence linking obesity to the development of certain cancer types. "We need the political will", Platz said.
"Obesity during childhood actually is a major predictor of adult obesity", Chang said, "I think it highlights the importance of reducing the rates of obesity through better diet, better and more exercise".