A new study reported by USA Today has confirmed some really bad news. Over the past four decades, colon and rectal cancers have increased dramatically and steadily, especially in young and middle-age adults.

This could be even worse news for Latinos.

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Latino men and the third leading cause of cancer deaths among Latina women.

Scientists have not pinpointed an exact cause, but they have theorized that the rising obesity rats and inactivity and poor diets have played a factor in this news.

“Colorectal cancer had been thought a success story” because overall rates have fallen as screening has increased among older adults, said lead researcher Rebecca Siegel in an interview with USA Today. “But it appears that under the surface, the underlying risk for colorectal cancer is rising, and it is rising pretty quickly among young adults.”

For Latinos, the causes may be even more deeply rooted in the inequities they face in health care. Language barriers and perceptions about colorectal cancer often keep many Latinos from getting early cancer screenings.

The American Cancer Society published the findings of their research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Some of the more startling findings include:

  • Someone born in 1990 has double the risk of early colon cancer and quadruple the risk of early rectal cancer as someone born in 1950
  • Most of the nation’s 135,000 annual cases and 50,000 deaths related to colon and rectal cancer still occur among people over age 55. But the share of cases involving younger adults has risen to 29% for rectal cancer and 17% for colon cancer
  • Nearly 11,000 people in their 40s and 4,000 under 40 were diagnosed in 2013.

Currently, screenings are recommended for adults over age 50 and for younger adults with certain genetic syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders or family histories.

Salud Today has covered this topic extensively in the past. Some of our resources include:

Colon Cancer Screening Rates Rise; Yet Latinos Least Likely to Get Screened

Colon Cancer Testing Lags in Latinos with Family History

Colon Cancer Affects 1 in 7 Patients Under 50

Why Should Hispanics Get Screened for Colon Cancer?

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