I stumbled upon a curious study reported in the New York Times today (2/28/17), from the article “Colon and Rectal Cancers Rising in Young People”:
Cancers of the colon and rectum have been declining in older adults in recent decades and have always been considered rare in young people. But scientists are reporting a sharp rise in colorectal cancers in adults as young as their 20s and 30s, an ominous trend.
The vast majority of colorectal cancers are still found in older people, with nearly 90 percent of all cases diagnosed in people over 50. But a new study from the American Cancer Society that analyzed cancer incidence by birth year found that colorectal cancer rates, which had dropped steadily for people born between 1890 and 1950, have been increasing for every generation born since 1950. Experts aren’t sure why.
All the doctors cited in the article confessed to being mystified. And the article did not speculate as to why.
Caveat: It must be understood that correlation is not causation. Just because more of A is seen when more of B appears does not necessarily indicate that B is causing A. Correlation is a necessary prerequisite for a finding of causation, but alone does not prove anything. The sun coming up an hour after the rooster crows does not mean the rooster caused the sun’s rise. Likewise, correlation does not tell in which direction the causation arrow points. It only tells that there is a potential for causation.
But here’s the correlation, from a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010, as reported in May of 2015 by the magazine that’s always explaining how to blow his sexual mind, Cosmopolitan, in a piece entitled “Is everyone having anal without me?”:
But I’ll be honest. When I read the statistics on the rise in anal sex, I was taken aback. Women are suddenly having gobs of it: 40 percent of us, ages 20 to 24, have tried anal sex, up from 16 percent in 1992, found a survey published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010. The number of women ages 20 to 39 who say they’ve done anal in the past year doubled to 20 percent. And 20 percent of women in relationships have had anal sex in the last three months. Now, you should probably adjust for the fact that people might be more forthcoming in this age of internet confession than they were back in the early ’90s — perhaps more people were having anal sex back then than were willing to admit it. Still, that’s a huge jump.
Anal sex was happening, and it was happening everywhere. It’s in all that porn, of course. In a 2010 study, researchers watched the 50 most popular porn movies and found 356 depictions, in 55 percent of the scenes, of men and women having anal. But here also was the feminist Naomi Wolf talking about how anal fissures — a tear in your rectal tissue — comprised the single biggest problem seen at campus health services on college campuses she visited. There was that scene on Girls where Adam tries to sneak in some anal, followed by one on The Mindy Project where Danny “slipped,” followed by a cameo on The Affair. And my friends were starting to talk about their experiences…and not in undertones.
(Does anyone really believe that everyone but a reporter for Cosmo is having anal sex?)
Why might an increased rate of anal sex be tied to the increase in colon cancer rates among the young, i.e., people in their twenties and thirties?
First, the cause for the increased risk of cancer has to come from somewhere, and most everything else can be ruled out.
It can’t be from eating a generally unhealthy American diet, as that would affect older people even more than the young, which is true of any environmental factor.
There is no indication that this generation of Americans inherited some mutated gene from its parents that curiously left the parents unaffected.
If it’s not genetic and its not environmental, what is it?
The only apparent difference between millennials and older people so far as colon and rectal health is concerned is the rate at which they have anal sex.
The study further bears this out, from the NY Times article:
Rectal cancer incidence rates among adults in their 20s increased even more sharply, rising by 3.2 percent a year from 1974 to 2013. And while rectal cancer rates have declined overall among people 55 and older since 1974, rates in people 50 to 54 increased between 1989-90 and 2012-13.
Which sort of colon cancer rates might be most affected by anal sex? Anal and rectal, obviously.
Yet, none of this is to say that anal sex causes colon cancer. It would take a controlled, years-long study of the rates of colon cancer occurring among people who have anal sex versus the rates that occur among people who don’t, to tease out whether anal sex is a risk factor for developing colon cancer.
This increased risk of colon cancer in the young seems analogous to increased rates of melanoma seen in young California women over the last several years, which makes little sense, until you factor in the use of tanning beds, as a previous post explained.
The World Health Organization lists tanning bed usage in its most dangerous category, as “cancer-causing”. US government regulators have yet to so warn Americans, no doubt for the upset it would cause to the tanning bed industry, and to vain blondes in California.
I wonder, what will be the government’s response when it is proved that putting things up the anus is not generally good for digestive health? To require a warning label be stamped on anuses at birth?
Imagine what’ll happen when the lawyers get involved, particularly if it’s some cabal of sleazy extortionist lawyers from Mississippi, like happened with the tobacco settlement. The settlement will be structured so that the government will have to impose a tax on anal sex, and then encourage people to engage in it in order to pay the plaintiffs and their lawyers who sued for having failed to warn of its dangers.