Unraveling the Rapid Aging Mystery Behind Early-Onset Cancers

Accelerated aging in younger populations has been associated with a higher incidence of early-onset cancers, particularly lung, gastrointestinal, and uterine cancers, highlighting the importance of modifiable factors in cancer risk. Credit:

A study reveals that accelerated aging is linked to an increased risk of early cancer, prompting the search for preventive measures adapted to biological age.

Accelerated aging was more common in recent birth cohorts and was associated with an increased incidence of early-onset solid tumors, according to a study presented at the 2024 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, which s is held from April 5 to 10.

“Several types of cancer are increasingly common among young adults in the United States and around the world,” said Ruiyi Tian, ​​MPH, a graduate student in the lab of Yin Cao, ScD, MPH at the School of Medicine. from Washington University in St. Louis. “Understanding the factors driving this increase will be essential to improve the prevention or early detection of cancers in younger and future generations. »

Tian and colleagues hypothesized that increasing biological age, indicative of accelerated aging, may contribute to the development of early-onset cancers, often defined as cancers diagnosed in adults younger than 55 years old. Unlike chronological age, which measures a person’s lifespan, biological age refers to a person’s body condition and physiological processes and is considered changeable, Tian explained.

“Unlike chronological age, biological age can be influenced by factors such as diet, physical activity, mental health and environmental stressors,” she added. “Increasing evidence suggests that younger generations may be aging faster than expected, likely due to earlier exposure to various risk factors and environmental insults. However, the impact of accelerated aging on early cancer development remains unclear.

To examine the association between biological age and cancer risk in younger individuals, Tian and colleagues examined data from 148,724 individuals housed in the UK Biobank database. They calculated the biological age of each participant using nine biomarkers present in the blood: albumin, alkaline phosphatase, creatinine, C-reactive protein, glucose, mean corpuscular volume, width of distribution of red blood cells, number of blood cells whites and proportion of lymphocytes. Individuals whose biological age was greater than their chronological age were defined as having accelerated aging.

Tian and his colleagues first assessed accelerated aging in birth cohorts and found that individuals born in 1965 or later had a 17% higher likelihood of accelerated aging than those born between 1950 and 1954. They then assessed the association between accelerated aging and the risk of accelerated aging. new onset cancers. They found that each standard deviation increase in accelerated aging was associated with a 42% increased risk of early-onset lung cancer, a 22% increased risk of early-onset gastrointestinal cancer, and a 22% increased risk of early-onset gastrointestinal cancer. increased early-onset uterine cancer by 36%. Accelerated aging did not have a significant impact on the risk of late-onset lung cancer (defined here as cancer diagnosed after age 55), but it was associated with a 16% and 23% increased risk of late-onset gastrointestinal and uterine cancers, respectively.

“By examining the relationship between accelerated aging and the risk of early-onset cancers, we provide a new perspective on the common etiology of early-onset cancers,” Tian said. “If validated, our results suggest that interventions aimed at slowing biological aging could provide a new avenue for cancer prevention, and that screening efforts tailored to younger people with signs of accelerated aging could help detect early-stage cancers.

Future research by Tian and colleagues will aim to uncover the mechanisms behind accelerated aging and early-onset cancers in order to develop precise cancer prevention strategies.

A limitation of the study is that all participants were from the United Kingdom, which may limit the generalizability of the results to populations with different genetic backgrounds, lifestyles, and environmental exposures. Tian noted that validation with diverse populations is needed.

The study was supported by the

National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. Founded in 1887, it is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH conducts its own scientific research through its Intramural Research Program (IRP) and provides significant biomedical research funding to non-NIH research facilities through its Extramural Research Program. With 27 different institutes and centers under its umbrella, the NIH covers a broad spectrum of health-related research, including specific diseases, population health, clinical research, and fundamental biological processes. Its mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of this knowledge to improve health, prolong life, and reduce disease and disability.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”({“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”})” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>National Institutes of Health. Tian declares no conflict of interest.

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