Epidemic of Cancer in Young People?

Is there an emerging epidemic of cancer in young people?  Some research suggests there is. When you consider the possibility of this along with rising rates of obesity and related chronic issues, it’s quite concerning. Not only will young people’s lives be cut short, in years, quality or both, but trying to pay for healthcare will be another nightmare. The healthcare system is unaffordable and inaccessible for many as is.

In a recent Causes or Cures episode, I chat with Dr. Shuji Ogino about his recent paper  published in Nature Reviews, Clinical Oncology, titled “Is early-onset cancer an emerging global epidemic? Current evidence and future implications.”

In the podcast, Dr. Ogino discusses what “early onset” means, what types of cancer are showing up earlier in younger people, and the evidence and data that supports this trend. He discusses how exposures early in life and in utero may be contributing to early-onset cancer in young people ( in their thirties and forties), and the specific risk factors that have been linked to a possible epidemic of cancer in young people. He talks about why molecular pathological epidemiology is important for future analysis of this trend and what we need to do to slow the epidemic from an individual perspective, a public health perspective, and a research one.

Just a note: I’ve seen this research misrepresented online. Folks took the headline, ran with it without reading the study, and many blamed the COVID vaccine. The COVID vaccine was not even mentioned in Ogino’s paper, as this trend has been happening for decades and getting worse in each subsequent birth cohort. He mentions several risk factors, but the COVID vaccine was not one of them. I wanted to call that out, because I’ve seen it posted on numerous Instagram accounts. Even if you have concerns about the COVID vaccine, I’m assuming you want to be accurate about what is or is not in a paper. ( I wrote more on this “running with headlines science” trend here. )

Moving on…who is Dr. Ogino?
Dr. Ogino, originally from Japan, is chief of the program in Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Professor of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. He is also a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  You can learn more about him here.

Listen to the podcast here!

After listening to this podcast on an emerging epidemic of cancer in young people, feel free to check out some of the other Causes or Cures podcast episodes. Subscribe, share, tell your friends. I appreciate all of the word-of-mouth or digital shares immensely. And if you leave or have left a review, THANK YOU. I know it can be a pain to write a review for someone, but they really do help a small podcast grow.

Chat soon,


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