Cancer rates rising in young people due to ‘accelerated aging,’ new study finds: ‘Highly troubling’

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Accelerated aging — when someone’s biological age is greater than their chronological age — could increase the risk of cancer tumors.

That’s according to new research presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

“Historically, both cancer and aging have been viewed primarily as concerns for older populations,” Ruiyi Tian, MPH, a graduate student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and one of the study researchers, told Fox News Digital.

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“The realization that cancer, and now aging, are becoming significant issues for younger demographics over the past decades was unexpected.”

In the study, diagnoses in patients younger than 55 years old were considered early-onset cancers.

The new study found that those with a higher biological age had a 42% increased risk of early-onset lung cancer, were 22% more prone to early-onset gastrointestinal cancer — and had a 36% higher risk for early-onset uterine cancer. (iStock)

The researchers analyzed data from 148,724 people using the UK Biobank database. 

They estimated each person’s biological age using nine biomarkers in the blood — then compared that to their chronological age.

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Those with a higher biological age had a 42% increased risk of early-onset lung cancer, were 22% more prone to early-onset gastrointestinal cancer, and had a 36% higher risk for early-onset uterine cancer.

The researchers also determined that people born after 1965 were 17% more likely to experience accelerated aging than those born in earlier decades.

cancer patient looks out window

Diagnoses in patients younger than 55 years old were considered early-onset cancers. The hope is that the new findings will lead to interventions to slow biological aging as a “new avenue for cancer prevention,” the researchers said. (iStock)

“The principal findings highlight that accelerated aging is increasingly prevalent among successive birth cohorts, potentially serving as a crucial risk factor or mediator for various environmental and lifestyle-related risk factors leading to early-onset cancer,” Tian said in an email to Fox News Digital.

“This discovery challenges us to reconsider the underlying causes of the increasing incidence of early-onset cancers among newer generations,” he added.

“It is vital for recent generations to become more health-conscious and consider the implications of accelerated aging.”

The hope is that these findings will lead to interventions to slow biological aging as a “new avenue for cancer prevention,” the researchers noted, combined with screening efforts tailored to younger individuals.

“It is vital for recent generations to become more health-conscious and consider the implications of accelerated aging,” Tian said.

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In future studies, the research team will work to determine the factors that drive accelerated aging and early-onset cancers, which will help with the development of more personalized cancer prevention strategies, according to a press release.

One limitation of the study is that all participants were from the U.K., Tian noted.

“Therefore, our findings may not be directly generalized to populations in other countries or to racial and ethnic minority groups not represented in the cohort.”

Dr. Brett Osborn

Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurologist and longevity expert, often discusses the concept of accelerated aging with his patients, he told Fox News Digital. (Dr. Brett Osborn)

Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurologist and longevity expert, often discusses the concept of accelerated aging with his patients.

“Just because a person is 40 years old chronologically does not mean that they are 40 years old biochemically,” Osborn, who was not involved in the new research, told Fox News Digital. 

“In other words, there may be a difference in one’s age – meaning, how long they’ve stood on this earth – and the body’s inner biochemical health, or lack thereof.”

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In Osborn’s clinic, he measures patients’ biological age to help measure the risk of age-related disease. 

“Typically, the older someone is chronologically, the greater the chance of developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke,” he said. 

Man cancer treatment

In future studies, the research team (not pictured) said it will work to determine the factors that drive accelerated aging and early-onset cancers — which will help with the development of more personalized cancer prevention strategies. (iStock)

“This is similarly the case if one’s biological age is higher than their calculated biological age — which means they are aging at an accelerated rate relative to their chronological age.”

“Their clock is, in essence, ticking faster.”

“As we reach a given biological age faster, age-related diseases will pop up earlier.”

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