Why do cancers affect people under 50 more? The opinion of Dr Ivan Pourmir, oncologist

Why do cancers affect people under 50 more The opinion

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    Ivan Pourmir (medical oncologist)

    The announcement of the cancer of Princess Kate Middleton, aged 42, has highlighted these cancers which strike young people. And like her, those under 50 are increasingly affected by the disease. How to explain such an increase? Dr Ivan Pourmir, oncologist at the Georges-Pompidou European Hospital, gives us his opinion.

    Kate Middleton, Olivia Munn and Caroline Receveur are just a few examples of these women under 50 affected by cancer. Beyond the media coverage linked to the celebrity of these patients, several epidemiological studies confirm that those under 50 are increasingly affected by cancer.

    An increase in cases of 22% in thirty years!

    In the magazine BMJ Oncology last September, researchers looked at 29 of the main tumors. They point to an increase from 67 to 82 cases of cancer detected per 100,000 inhabitants aged 14 to 49 worldwide between 1990 and 2019, an increase of 22%.

    Cancers of the pancreas, colon, breast, kidney and skin are particularly affected. For colorectal cancers, the increase is even more obvious: +80% cancer rate worldwide, in this age group. And mortality which is also increasing in parallel, with +28% deaths in thirty years.

    Known risk factors… and others less so

    How can we explain this increase over several decades? Questioned, Dr Ivan Pourmir, oncologist at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris, mentions different causes.

    More frequent diagnoses

    L’increase in cases of cancer among young people is partly linked to incidental diagnoses and also to better access to medical imaging, which allows certain lesions to be better seen. says the doctor first of all.

    Sedentary lifestyle, obesity, pollution, endocrine disruptors… these other risk factors

    Beyond these diagnoses which can be explained, the figures show an upward trend. “IThere are of course the usual risk factors such as the tobacco and alcohol the doctor continues. “But they are well known and the population’s relationship to these substances has not really changed. This alone cannot therefore explain these worrying increases in cases..

    What other factors are potentially incriminated? According to the researcher, difficult to say. “There is surely the role of sedentary lifestyleobesity, but also pesticidessuch as glyphosate, against which evidence is accumulating and endocrine disruptors“.

    What about exposure to electromagnetic fields?

    Ivan Pourmir goes further by also pointing out the new sources of electromagnetic fields in which we are constantly immersed. “There is Bluetooth, WiFi, mobile phones, computers… So many elements to which we are constantly exposed and which are neither properly controlled nor well evaluated, particularly from the point of view of their potential biological effects. I am thinking of cancers, without any scientific certainty at the moment, but also of fertility problems“.

    The same cancers, but more serious in young people

    In addition to affecting younger people, these cancers also seem more aggressive. Ivan Pourmir confides that he has already met young patients with very advanced pancreatic or testicular cancer, for example. “OI feel like even though it’s the same disease, the treatments won’t work as well. This is the case for colon cancer: known protocols will treat 65-year-olds well and a 40-year-old patient much less well, without us really understanding why.” explains the scientist.

    So what should we do in practice to try to avoid developing cancer before the age of 50? “It is difficult to change your environment or your way of life drastically” believes Ivan Pourmir. He still recommends, as far as possible, favoring a food of organic origin, practice regular physical activity and avoid toxic substances, such as tobacco and alcohol. And of course to consult a doctor at the slightest unusual symptom, which will not disappear after a few weeks.

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