HealthDay News — Whites in western states are experiencing the most rapid increase in early-onset colorectal cancer (CRC), according to a study published online May 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH, from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and national survey data to examine changes in CRC incidence and risk factors by state among people aged 20 to 49 years.

The researchers found that among blacks and Hispanics, early-onset CRC incidence was mostly stable, but an increase was seen in 40 of 47 states among non-Hispanic whites, most prominently in western states. In Washington, rates increased from 6.7 to 11.5 per 100,000 from 1995-1996 to 2014-2015 (rate ratio, 1.73), and in Colorado, rates increased from 6.0 to 9.5 (rate ratio, 1.57). Southern states had the highest current CRC incidence. Increases were seen in the prevalence of obesity in all states from 1995 to 2005, and heavy alcohol consumption increased in one-third of states; neither correlated with trends in CRC incidence.

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“Early-onset CRC is rising most rapidly among whites in Western states, where healthy behaviors are prominent,” the authors write. “Differences in the trend by subsite, race, and state implicate factors in addition to the ‘usual suspects’ and highlight the need for etiologic studies to explore early-life colorectal carcinogenesis.”

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