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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Colorectal Cancer Rates Up; Blame Obesity

Obesity, Lifestyle Changes Are Factors in the Major Increases in Colorectal Cancer Rates


The researchers, who examined colorectal cancer data from 1983-1987 through 1998-2002, found incidence rates for both males and females increased for 27 of 51 cancer registries. The increases were more prominent in men, and some were dramatic.

In Slovenia, for example, colorectal cancer incidence increased 70% among men and 28% among women. In Miyagi, Japan, rates rose 92% among men and 47% among women.

In the United States, colorectal cancer incidence rates declined in both males and females.

The increase in other countries likely reflects the adoption of Western behaviors and lifestyles. These include obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, a diet high in red or processed meats, and inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The male colorectal cancer incidence rates in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Japan not only exceeded the peak incidence observed in the U.S. and other long-standing developed countries, but continue to increase.

Umar and Greenwald in a news release call the rising rates “alarming” and say they point “toward a failed early detection and prevention strategy as well as failure to address lifestyle and dietary challenges of urbanization that affect most of the globe.”

Screening procedures for colorectal cancer such as colonoscopy has contributed to the decrease in incidence rates among males and females in the U.S., the study says.

Japan’s problem, in essence, is that its people “have moved to California” in their behaviors and habits and adopted unhealthy diets and lifestyles, Jemal tells WebMD. The same is true in other nations undergoing transformations as their economies become more developed.

“This is very alarming,” Jemal says.

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