Born sometime from early 1980s to mid 1990s? You’re a Millennial and you’re probably well acquainted with some level of derision regarding your lifestyle from your Baby Boomer grandparents and Gen X employers. You’re techie, flexible, eco-conscious, outdoorsy, and want more than what you see as the materialistic, 9-5 life of generations before you. For all this relaxation and focus on better things, why are Millennials getting colon cancer? Because those easy-going, healthful ways are a stereotype.
Symptoms – don’t wait to see your physician
Colorectal cancer in its initial stages has no symptoms. Once the disease has progressed it is much harder to treat. But, if colorectal cancer is caught early it has a 90 percent survival rate. Symptoms that colorectal cancer is progressing can manifest as:
- Dark stools, blood in the stool,
- inconsistent bowel movements,
- abdominal pain,
- sudden weight loss, or
Colorectal cancer demographics
The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that while the incidence of colorectal cancer cases are declining overall, rates are rising among young adults. In fact, rectal cancer risk has quadrupled among the younger adults compared to those born around 1950.
Why are rates declining overall? Because more older adults are getting preventative colorectal cancer screening. And why are colorectal cancer rates rising among younger people? Because they aren’t taking care of their health! For all we hear about the Millennial relaxed mindset, they are too relaxed when it comes to taking care of their bodies.
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Here are some specific things everyone can do to lower the risk of colon cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight,
- exercise regularly,
- eat less red and processed meats,
- greatly increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for increased fibre,
- quit smoking, and
- curb alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks daily for men and one for women with the intent of most days being alcohol free.
Yes, preventative screening for colorectal cancer – which may include a colonoscopy – gives most people the shivers. It’s critical to get over any reservations about preventive screenings — and for Millennials to start getting them earlier. The new guidelines from the ACS are to start screening at age 45 – and sooner if any symptoms are present. Your heart will thank you.
Dr. James Kneller treats atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, and other heart conditions. He is an internationally recognized authority on cardiovascular health and personal development.
New JNCI study finds CRC rates have risen dramatically in Gen X and Millennials