Obesity and Cancer Risks in Young Adults

Millennials at higher risk than preceding generations.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
May 21, 2019

Recent findings reveal a trend toward increased risk for obesity-related cancers among young American adults. The study, published in The Lancet, found significant increases in six of 12 obesity-related cancers in young adults, with even greater rises in successively younger generations. Compared with people born 1945-1954, for example, those born 1980–1989 had double the risk . . . at the same age.

Findings are based on analysis of 20 years of cancer incidence data in 25 states, covering 67% of the U.S. population.

“Although the absolute risk of these cancers is small in younger adults, these findings have important public health implications,” said principal investigator Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, scientific vice president of surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. Jemal warned that increasing rates of overweight and obesity among young adults combined with these cancer trends could halt or reverse past progress in reducing cancer mortality made over several decades and may portend future health problems when these individuals become older adults.


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.

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