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Health Services Research & Development

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Low EE, Demb J, Liu L, Earles A, Bustamante R, Williams CD, Provenzale D, Kaltenbach T, Gawron AJ, Martinez ME, Gupta S. Risk Factors for Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer. Gastroenterology. 2020 Jan 9.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND and AIMS: Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality are increasing among persons in the United States younger than 50 years old, but risk factors associated with early-onset CRC (EOCRC) have not been widely studied. METHODS: We conducted a case-control study of United States veterans 18-49 years old who underwent colonoscopy examinations from 1999 through 2014. EOCRC cases were identified from a national cancer registry; veterans who were free of CRC at their baseline colonoscopy through 3 years of follow up were identified as controls. We collected data on age, sex, race/ethnicity, body weight, body mass index (BMI), diabetes, smoking status, and aspirin use. Multivariate-adjusted EOCRC odds were estimated for each factor, with corresponding 95% CI values. RESULTS: Our final analysis included 651 EOCRC cases and 67,416 controls. Median age was 45.3 years, and 82.3% were male. Higher proportions of cases were older, male, current smokers, non-aspirin users, and had lower BMIs, compared with controls (P < .05). In adjusted analyses, increasing age and male sex were significantly associated with increased risk of EOCRC, whereas aspirin use and being overweight or obese (relative to normal BMI) were significantly associated with decreased odds of EOCRC. In post-hoc analyses, weight loss of 5 kg or more within the 5-year period preceding colonoscopy was associated with higher odds of EOCRC (odds ratio, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.76-2.83). CONCLUSIONS: In a case-control study of veterans, we found increasing age and male sex to be significantly associated with increased risk of EOCRC, and aspirin use to be significantly associated with decreased risk; these factors also affect risk for CRC onset after age 50. Weight loss may be an early clinical sign of EOCRC. More intense efforts are required to identify the factors that cause EOCRC and signs that can be used to identify individuals at highest risk.

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