Generation X and cancer

Roundup: Cancer Rates Projected Higher for Gen-Xers Compared to Boomers; and More News

Cancer Rates Predicted Higher for Gen-Xers Turning 60 Than for Boomers, New Study Projects

Members of Generation X, or Gen-Xers, born 1965 to 1980, are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the generation before them, the Baby Boomers, born 1945 to 1964, according to new study by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published in JAMA Network Open.

If current cancer trends hold up, researchers concluded that “cancer incidence in the U.S. could remain unacceptably high for decades to come.”

The researchers point to earlier cancer detection over the past several decades, fueled by “sophisticated medical imaging technologies,” as one major driver in the growing cancer incidence among Gen-Xers. They also cite obesity and sedentary lifestyles as likely factors.

“The models in this cohort study suggest that Generation X is experiencing larger per-capita increases in the incidence of leading cancers combined than any prior generation born from 1908 through 1964,” the study’s authors state.

Researchers used data from 3.8 million people diagnosed with malignant cancer in the U.S. from 1992 until 2018. They compared cancer rates for members of Generation X and Baby Boomers. Then they ran a statistical modeling program that found Gen-Xers turning 60 years-old (starting in 2025) were more likely to be diagnosed with invasive cancer than Boomers were at age 60.

The study also raised questions about rising cancer rates among the children of Gen-Xers, known as Millennials (born 1981-1996).

“Our results beg the question of what the cancer experience may be like among the 72 million Millennials when they enter their 40s, 50s, and 60s,” the study states. “On one hand, our analysis shows that the proxy parents of the Millennials (Gen-Xers) are experiencing as much or more cancer than the proxy parents of Generation X (Boomers).”

While the increase among Millennials is concerning “because of shared cancer-predisposing lifestyle factors and exposures” with their parents, there is some hope of a turnaround. The researchers state: “Thanks to the global investment in cancer research, there are tremendous opportunities to prospectively reduce the Millennials’ future cancer burden.”

Related article: Understanding Why Colorectal Cancer Rates are Surging in Adults Under 50

Researchers Detail How Regular Walking Reduces Back Pain Recurrence in New Study

Brisk or long walks on a regular basis are good for overall health, but they also may help those with recurring back pain, researchers say.

A new study found that patients who went for half-hour walks five times a week, and received coaching from a physiotherapist, had fewer flare-ups than a control group. The researchers address a common problem. An estimated seven in 10 people who recover from an episode of low back pain have a recurrence within a year.

The study, conducted by researchers at Macquarie University in Australia and published in the medical journal The Lancet, included 700 adults who had recently recovered from an episode of lower back pain for up to three years. 

Half of them, chosen at random, were part of the “intervention group” and were provided a customized walking program and guidance from a physiotherapist. The rest were in a control group left to take the personal or medical steps they saw fit. 

"The intervention group had fewer occurrences of activity limiting pain compared to the control group, and a longer average period before they had a recurrence, with a median of 208 days compared to 112 days," explained Mark Hancock, professor of physiotherapy at Macquarie University and a lead author of the study, in a statement.

The researchers said patients also reported that the physical activity also improved their quality of life, reduced their need to seek healthcare support and reduced the amount of time taken off work by approximately half.

Added Mr. Hancock, in a statement: “And of course, we also know that walking comes with many other health benefits, including cardiovascular health, improved bone density, maintenance of a healthy weight and improved mental health.”

In the study, the amount of walking each person completed was individualized based on a range of factors including age, physical capacity, preferences and available time, states a news release on the study.

Participants were provided a guide to build up to 30 minutes, five times a week over a six-month period, the researchers said. “After three months, most of the people who took part were walking three to five days a week for an average of 130 minutes.

NIH to Launch Test Program of a ‘National Primary Care Research Network’

Over the next two years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will invest about $30 million to test a “national primary care research network” that combines clinical research and community-based primary care, the NIH has announced.

Communities Advancing Research Equity for Health, or CARE for Health, is the new program with the goal of increasing access to clinical research – “especially for underprivileged and historically underrepresented communities in healthcare,” said the NIH in a news release.

CARE for Health hopes to establish an “evidence base” the “contributes to improved patient outcomes, provide communities access to the best available scientific research and expand opportunities to participate in clinical trials and studies.”

Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., the director of the NIH, provides a summary of the program’s vision in a Science editorial published this month.

States Dr. Bertagnolli: “Rather than sticking to a narrow suite of studies determined by researchers centrally, the network will offer a wider menu of studies, allowing more patients and providers more choice to participate in, and influence, those studies most relevant to their needs and the needs of their communities.

Participating clinical sites will be able to choose research studies based on health issues affecting and prioritized by their communities, said the NIH. Patients will be able to contribute their data to research “to generate results that are clinically meaningful to them,” and final findings and aggregate results will be shared with research participants. 

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