Obesity related cancer: surgeon warns rise amongst millennials

Obesity related cancer: surgeon warns rise amongst millennials
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A while back Health Europa reported on obesity related cancer to be on the rise, particularly in the US, but now Britain’s millennials may be at risk too.

Following recent news that obesity related cancers are on the rise in younger generations across the globe, particularly the US, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Rajiv Bajekal of Total Orthopaedics, UK, warns that Britain’s millennials could be at risk of following this trend if their approach to health is not sufficiently addressed.

Obesity related cancer occurring in young people

Published in The Lancet, excess body weight is an established cause of cancer, and research found that half of the obesity-related cancers (colorectal, uterine gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic and multiple myeloma) disproportionately increased in people under the age of 50.

In addition to this, they also found rises in cancer rates amongst the younger generations for example, the risk of colorectal, uterine and gallbladder cancers have doubled for millennials compared to baby boomers now aged 50 to 70.

Furthermore, cancers such as breast and Ovarian cancer are also much more common in obese women.

The rise of obesity

In the UK, 26% of adults were classified as obese, this is an increase of 15% since 1993.

Bajekal explains: “Although we are living in an era with modern medicine, medical technology and expertise, we are still seeing a rise in obesity and chronic health conditions since the last 40 years.

“There should be much more emphasis on preventive medicine which in turn encourages people to make lifestyle adjustments to improve their health or reverse looming conditions”.

Time to encourage millennials to take action

Bajekal talks more about what he thinks are the underlying factors of leading to such an increase: “The rise in cancer related obesity is strongly correlated with poor dietary choices, high stress levels, lack of exercise and other lifestyle issues.

He adds: “We need to encourage millennials, as well as everyone, to make significant and long-term changes to their approach to diet and lifestyle.

“The good news is that 40% of cancer cases are preventable, through lifestyle changes including diet and exercise.”

Let’s talk Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle medicine is an established and evidence-based approach that could potentially help tackle the worry of obesity related cancer.

Focusing on improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and society as a whole, Lifestyle Medicine empowers the patient to take control of their own health and understands the many determinants of disease, including social, environmental, genetic and emotional factors.

Implementing a whole foods plant based diet, adequate sleep, exercise and stress management are part of the lifestyle medicine approach. It runs alongside conventional medicine unlike alternative medicine but is foundational in preventing chronic ill health.

Bajekal explains how implementing the Lifestyle Medicine approach to his patients as an Orthopaedic surgeon has certainly proven to be beneficial.

Adding: “Many of my patients have implemented aspects of lifestyle medicine into their lifestyle whether it is practising Pilates to ease lower back pain or choosing a whole foods plant-based diet which can help with their recovery by reducing inflammation.

“Lifestyle factors such as diet play a hugely important role in prevention for a variety of Orthopaedic issues from back pain to osteoporosis. Even in patients who are undergoing surgery, recurrence of problems in the future are best prevented by addressing lifestyle issues.”


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