Early-onset cancers, defined as cancers found in adults under the age of 50, have “significantly increased” around the world in recent decades, according to a new report from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Researchers said breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancers, among others, saw a drastic increase starting in the 1990s.
“From our data, we observed what is called the birth cohort effect. This effect shows that each successive group of people born later (for example, a decade later) has a higher risk of develop cancer later in life, likely due to the risk factors they were exposed to at a young age,” Shuji Ogino, MD, Ph.D., a professor and physician-scientist, said in the report, suggesting a increasing risk with each generation.
According to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital report, exposures from conception through age 19 play a role in cancer diagnoses before a person reaches age 50.
The study found that the increased incidence is partly attributable to early detections for some of these cancers, however, early exposures such as diet, weight, lifestyle, environmental exposure and People’s microbiome may take into account what contributes to the early onset of cancer, but more information about individual exposures is needed, according to the report.
“Even in utero exposures can lead to cellular reprogramming, including epigenetic alterations, which could have lasting effects on susceptibility to chronic disease,” the researchers wrote.
Factors such as alcohol consumption increase the risk of cancers, according to the report. Between the 1960s and the early 2010s, alcohol consumption increased in many countries.
Another study from April found that moderate alcohol consumption increased cancer risk in women.
“We find that probably between 5% and 10% of all cancers in the world are due to alcohol consumption,” Dr. Suneel Kamath, gastrointestinal clinical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, told “Good Morning America” in April.
A January report from the American Cancer Society found nearly 2 million new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States this year, with more than 600,000 Americans dying of cancer in 2022.
ABC News’ Mary Kekatos contributed to this report.