Young white people are increasingly dying of colorectal cancer, a disease typically associated with older people, according to a report published Aug. 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Death rates for colorectal cancer for adults under 55 have been increasing over the past decade,” Rebecca Siegel, lead author and epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, told HuffPost.
The report found that between 2004 and 2014, the colorectal cancer death rate among young white people between the ages of 20 and 54 rose from 3.6 colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 people to 4.1 deaths per year, or about 1.4 percent per year.
The same was not true for the black population, among whom mortality declined over the same period.
And while health experts previously theorized that more widespread colonoscopy testing could be driving disease diagnoses, the new report suggests that’s not the case.
“This is a change in the trend, because the death rate was declining for the previous couple of decades by about 2 percent per year,” Siegel said. “This indicates that the increase in colorectal cancer incidence that we see in this age group is a true increase.”
Another clue that increased testing is not behind the disease increase: the largest increase in diagnoses was for metastatic cancer. “Typically if it were earlier detection, the biggest increase would be for localized…