Written By Sade Meeks, RD, MS
“Millennials” (currently aged between 23 – 38 years of age) are often described as tech savvy, innovative, and self aware individuals. However, one might argue that this group may need to do more when it comes to being aware of chronic disease prevention, specifically Colon Cancer. The debilitating and invasive cancer is already the number 2 cancer killer in the United States and diagnoses is now rising amongst this younger age group.
Overall, you could say the news is positive, with rates of colon cancer actually decreasing. However, if we look a little closer and break down the statistics by age group, you’ll see the story is a little different for younger adults. Rates of colon cancer have decreased among adults older than 55years old, while at least a 2% increase has been noted among ages 20-39 (1). Also, according to the colon cancer coalition people in their 30s are up to 70% are more likely to be diagnosed with later stages of colon cancer, which suggests they are missing early diagnosis (2).
So, why are the rates increasing, you ask?
Well, that’s is a good question. Genetics can be a small factor, but diet and obesity are speculated to play a role. In fact, it’s not just colon cancer. The obesity problem among millennials may also be contributing to other cancers, including kidney and pancreatic cancers. Additionally, while whole grains and high fiber diets are linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, Americans just aren’t consuming enough of it. We are generally consuming at least 10 grams less than the recommended amount.
What should you do about Colon Cancer?
Despite there being an increase in diagnoses among millennials, the recommended screening age does not target millennials – the incidence is still too low to justify routine colonoscopies. The recommended screening age for colon cancer is 45, a decrease from the previous recommended age of 50. However, millennials should be aware of the symptoms along with everyone else. It is recommended to speak with your doctor and possibly go in for a colonoscopy (the gold standard for diagnosis) if you experience the following symptoms:
- Rectal bleeding
- Unusual stools
- Changes in bowel movements
- Low energy
Prepping for a colonoscopy involves taking a prescribed laxative to clean out your system, meaning one may have to reschedule Sunday brunch or a booked Airbnb Experience, but this slight disruption can potentially save a life.
Most importantly prevention can also simply start with diet. Try including some of the Colon Cancer Foundation’s top colon cancer fighting foods into your diet.
- Whole Grains, like the ones you’ll find inside Prebiotioc Barley+ Toasted Muesli (link to product page)
- Lean Meats
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Low-Sugar Fruit
- Greek Yogurt
At Barley+ we’ve made it easy for everyone (not just millennials!) to take simple steps to get your gut health back on track; like our 28 Day Reboot program. A simple 28 day program of tips, tricks and yummy food, you can sign up Free for the month of March and receive a FREE pack of breakfast muesli to help get you through your first 7 days! Sign up HERE