Nearly half of older millennials already have chronic health conditions, a new study suggests.
About 44 percent of people born between 1981 and 1988 have already been diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition, according to the CNBC / Harris poll.
The most common conditions among the group were migraine, depression and asthma, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure were not far behind.
In most conditions, older millennials had higher rates of chronic disease compared to the general public – including those older than them.
And experts warn that the mysterious fallout from ‘long-covid̵
About 46 percent of the 831 millennia-olds in the poll of 4,000 people said they had a chronic health condition (green) – more than the proportion of the general population (gray)
Gene therapies, cancer treatments, artificial hearts, the ability to restore sight and the measles vaccine – the world has made astonishing advances in the treatment and even cure of many devastating health problems.
But some of the most nagging and deadly health problems still plague millions of Americans, and prices can rise at younger ages.
Among 831 respondents aged 33 to 40, the study found that 15 percent had high blood pressure or hypertension.
It is only about half the rate in the general population, but the risk typically increases with age. At ages 55-65, the risk of hypertension shoots up to about 90 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Eleven percent of respondents also said they have high cholesterol, for which risks increase correspondingly with age.
And heart disease was already half as common among this age group compared to the general population, with four percent having already been diagnosed with the biggest killer by Americans.
Each condition has a web of underlying drivers, including genetic predispositions.
But experts have a particular suspicion in mind: obesity.
At present, only 10 percent of respondents reported being overweight compared to 13 percent of the general population of respondents (the survey was completed by more than 4,000 U.S. adults in total).
But obesity is generally on the rise in the United States, especially among young people.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told CNBC that there is ‘no question’ that millennials have more health problems than doctors expected.
‘Hypertension, diabetes and obesity drive a lot of it.’
He added that obesity increases the risk of the other two conditions, as well as the risk of some cancers, such as colorectal cancer, which have seen an alarming increase in adolescents.
Annual cases among those under 50s increased the number of bowel cancers by approx. 2.2 percent each year between 2011 and 2016, and 18 percent of all cases by 2020 were expected to be in Americans younger than 50 years.
The most common conditions among the group were migraine, depression and asthma, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure were not far behind
Among the study group, cancer was almost as common among older millennia as in the general population.
About four percent of 33- to 40-year-olds said they had been diagnosed with cancer compared to five percent of the total study group.
Millennials also reported high depression (23 percent), migraine (26 percent), asthma (19 percent), IBS (12 percent), and hyperactivity and psychotic disorders (10 percent).
They also had above average alcohol and drug abuse (nine and eight percent, respectively).
It is too early to say exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the number of chronic health conditions, but the early warning signs are not good.
Estimated one in 20 people who had COVID-19 ended up with ‘long covid’ – long-lasting symptoms ranging from difficulty breathing to fog and fatigue, to name a few.
It suggests that millions of millennia who had coronavirus could face a whole new set of chronic health problems as well as higher risks of known conditions.