Doctors can’t explain why there is a rise in colon cancer in young adults but are warning people under 50 to make some simple lifestyle changes in order to decrease their risk.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute says colon cancer cases have doubled in the United States among young adults ages 20-39 since the mid-1980s.

“We know that excess body weight is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer,” Dr. Leah Smith, senior manager of surveillance at the Canadian Cancer Society said. “Rates of obesity are increasing in our population so that could explain the increase.”

Smith suggests being active, reducing the consumption of red and processed meats, limiting alcohol and not smoking as ways to prevent colon cancer.

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