The millennial generation gets a fair share of flack for their various lifestyle choices, but this one bears paying attention to – according to a new study, overweight millennials are at a higher risk for cancer. The link between obesity and an increased risk of certain cancers is proven, but a recent study released by the American Cancer Society now shows a rise in obesity related cancers in people specifically born between 1981 and 1997. The study’s lead author indicates that this new trend is a predictor for future diseases in this generation. To be considered obese, a person must have body mass index of 30.0. Based on a recent poll by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, nearly 70% of U.S. adults are overweight with more than one-third considered obese.
“Millennials face many challenges when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices, especially in regards to diet and activity,” says Robin Strate, Woman’s Oncology Dietitian. Strate attributes these challenges to the shift to a tech savvy, indulgent, “live your best life” type of lifestyle where young adults statistically over- utilize modern conveniences and opt out of physical activity, resulting in more time spent being sedentary. This translates to lower daily calorie burn and increased weight gain, which in turn, escalates the obesity rate.
Some theories behind the increased millennial cancer risks include: excess body weight can affect inflammation and hormones, or that the extra weight impacts the gut’s microbiome, which are microorganisms that help the body digest food, produce certain vitamins, and regulate the body’s immune system against disease-causing bacteria.
Cancer prevention through healthier lifestyles
“As an oncologist, I often talk with people about the importance of lifestyle modifications when discussing cancer risks,” says Dr. Mindy Bowie, Woman’s Breast Surgical Oncologist, “This includes a healthy diet and regular exercise, things that are sustainable for the rest of a person’s life.” She encourages the younger generation to be aware of their increased risks and to take necessary preventative measures; starting a healthy lifestyle now will have greater benefits later in life.
The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a daily diversified diet that favors brightly colored and strongly flavored fruits and vegetables, which are often the best sources of phytochemicals, naturally occurring plant chemical found to be immune stimulants and carcinogen blockers.
Woman’s Center for Wellness offers a full range of nutrition and fitness programs designed to specifically meet the millennial lifestyle – from weight loss to strength training to pregnancy and other disease management.