Accelerated aging — when someone’s biological age is greater than their chronological age — could increase the risk of cancer tumors.

That’s according to new research presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

“Historically, both cancer and aging have been viewed primarily as concerns for older populations,” Ruiyi Tian, MPH, a graduate student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and one of the study researchers, told Fox News Digital.

“The realization that cancer, and now aging, are becoming significant issues for younger demographics over the past decades was unexpected.”

In the study, diagnoses in patients younger than 55 years old were considered early-onset cancers.

The researchers analyzed data from 148,724 people using the UK Biobank database. 

They estimated each person’s biological age using nine biomarkers in the blood — then compared that to their chronological age.

Those with a higher biological age had a 42% increased risk of early-onset lung cancer, were 22% more prone to early-onset gastrointestinal cancer, and had a 36% higher risk for early-onset uterine cancer.

The researchers also determined that people born after 1965 were 17% more likely to experience accelerated aging than those born in earlier decades.

“The principal findings highlight that accelerated aging is increasingly prevalent among successive birth cohorts, potentially serving as a crucial risk factor or mediator for various environmental and lifestyle-related risk factors leading to early-onset cancer,” Tian said in an email to Fox News Digital.

“This discovery challenges us to reconsider the underlying causes of the increasing incidence of early-onset cancers among newer generations,” he added.

The hope is that these findings will lead to interventions to slow biological aging as a “new avenue for cancer prevention,” the researchers noted, combined with screening efforts tailored to younger individuals.

“It is vital for recent generations to become more health-conscious and consider the implications of accelerated aging,” Tian said.

In future studies, the research team will work to determine the factors that drive accelerated aging and early-onset cancers, which will help with the development of more personalized cancer prevention strategies, according to a press release.

One limitation of the study is that all participants were from the U.K., Tian noted.

“Therefore, our findings may not be directly generalized to populations in other countries or to racial and ethnic minority groups not represented in the cohort.”

Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurologist and longevity expert, often discusses the concept of accelerated aging with his patients.

“Just because a person is 40 years old chronologically does not mean that they are 40 years old biochemically,” Osborn, who was not involved in the new research, told Fox News Digital. 

“In other words, there may be a difference in one’s age – meaning, how long they’ve stood on this earth – and the body’s inner biochemical health, or lack thereof.”

In Osborn’s clinic, he measures patients’ biological age to help measure the risk of age-related disease. 

“Typically, the older someone is chronologically, the greater the chance of developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke,” he said. 

“This is similarly the case if one’s biological age is higher than their calculated biological age — which means they are aging at an accelerated rate relative to their chronological age.”

“Their clock is, in essence, ticking faster.”

Obesity plays a big part in accelerated aging, according to Osborn.

“Obesity rates are on the rise, and this is a primary risk factor for aging and age-related diseases,” he said. 

“It is a gateway disease to type II diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, to name a few.”

Obesity also causes “biochemical abnormalities,” such as insulin resistance and high levels of inflammation in the body, the doctor warned.

“As obesity rates rise for a variety of reasons, it should come as no surprise that rates of aging are going to accelerate, along with the rates of diseases such as cancer,” Osborn said. 

“More simply put, as we reach a given biological age faster, age-related diseases will pop up earlier.”

Regarding the new Washington University study, Osborn called the findings “highly troubling.”

“This parallels the deteriorating health of the younger generations, as is evidenced – in this study – by the heightened cancer risk in the same population,” he told Fox News Digital.

Beyond cancer, Osborn predicted that a spike would also be detected for other age-related diseases.

“Our nation’s health – let alone Britain’s – is imperiled, and unless radical measures are taken, this trend will likely worsen before it gets better,” he warned.

“The younger population will be stricken with lethal diseases at an earlier age.”

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