Obesity-related cancers usually seen among baby boomers are on the rise among millennials and Generation X, according to a major study funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. What’s also troubling is that these cancers are appearing at increasingly younger ages.

What we know

The study revealed that six of the 12 obesity-related cancers such as colorectal, endometrial, kidney, gallbladder, pancreatic and multiple myeloma (a bone marrow cancer) are on the rise among adults ages 25 to 49. Most of these cancers are typically found in older adults, and the study showed that today’s risk of colorectal, endometrial, pancreatic and gallbladder cancers in millennials and Gen Xers were double the rate baby boomers had when they were younger.

Why is it happening?

There isn’t one clear cut answer for why obesity-related cancers are more prevalent among today’s younger adults than they once were. But lifestyle and diet are well-known contributors to many kinds of cancers.

Dr.Lisa Jervis, an ob-gyn who specializes in integrative medicine at Novant Health Integrative Medicine, offers three quick tips on getting a handle on your lifestyle and and how to take steps toward reducing the risk of obesity-related cancers.

  1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness, or the simple practice of paying attention to what you do in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way, can help you improve your focus. This, Jervis emphasized, can help people who want to take more control over their lives. For instance, Jervis said mindfulness can allow us to become more purposeful about what we choose to eat. By taking the time to think through your body’s needs and being more aware of them, you can immediately make better nutritional choices for your diet.
  1. Understand what a healthy weight means for you. What’s considered a healthy weight for one person may not work for you. Having a body mass index between 18 and 25 is ideal, said Jervis. You can get these numbers at your provider’s office or through our online BMI calculator.
  1. Put a cap on your soda intake. Sure, fizzy sodas are a favorite for many, but sugary drinks can add up and pose a risk for your health. One study showed that drinking sugary beverages can slightly increase your risk for early death.

“A big culprit of our society’s obesity problem are these really sugary drinks that are readily available, like the Frappuccino you’d get from a nearby Starbucks,” said Jervis. “Becoming healthier really involves focusing more on limiting those from your diet.”

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