Date
22 September 2018
Chinese University Professor Joseph Sung (right) said obesity, age, gender, smoking and family history are major risk factors for colorectal cancer. Photo: CUHK
Chinese University Professor Joseph Sung (right) said obesity, age, gender, smoking and family history are major risk factors for colorectal cancer. Photo: CUHK

Public urged to control body weight to prevent colorectal cancer

Hong Kong people need to watch their body weight more often and control it in order to lower the risk of contracting colorectal cancer, which now tops the list of cancer incidences in the city.

The Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) said on Tuesday that its latest research found the global incidence of colorectal cancer among younger individuals has been increasing.

While the risk of colorectal cancer theoretically increases with age, the researchers said the “young shift” in the incidence of colorectal cancer may be linked to obesity, which has been on the rise in Hong Kong over the past years.

The finding came after they analyzed colorectal cancer data in more than 100 million people from six selected developed countries and regions, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Sweden, between 1988 and 2007, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Results showed that Hong Kong and the US had seen a rising incidence of colon cancer in younger individuals under the age of 55 over the 20-year period, corresponding to a decreasing incidence in older individuals aged 55 or above.

The number of new cases of colon cancer in the younger group had risen at an average annual rate of 1.7 percent during the period, compared to minus 1.3 percent in the older group.

Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, CUHK’s Mok Hing Yiu Professor of Medicine, said there has been sufficient medical evidence reflected by research results in recent years that obesity can cause colorectal cancer.

The accumulation of extra fat in the body can make human body less sensitive to insulin, which in turn will affect hormone and cell growth and increase the risk of developing cancer as a result, Sung said, adding that the other four major risk factors besides obesity are age, gender, smoking and family history.

Sung, CUHK vice-chancellor and president between July 2010 and December 2017, urged the public to have a balanced diet and do more exercise to prevent colorectal cancer.

The government’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Pilot Programme has now allowed asymptomatic Hong Kong residents born between 1946 to 1955 to undergo subsidized screening tests since it was launched in phases in September 2016.

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TL/JC/CG

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