PHILADELPHIA Survivors of pediatric cancer are at greater risk for high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which predispose them to heart disease. These risk factors for heart disease are being found at an earlier age than in the general population, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Lillian R. Meacham, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Survivor Program and professor of pediatrics at Emory University, extracted data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which included 8,599 cancer survivors and 2,936 of their siblings.
"In data previously published from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, pediatric cancer survivors were found to be at almost 10-fold greater risk for cardiovascular disease than their non-survivor counterparts," said Meacham. "In this study we identified whether the predisposing risk factors for cardiovascular disease obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemea and diabetes were present at higher rates compared to siblings. If the risk factors could be recognized and treated early it is hoped some of the long-term cardiac side effects could be averted."
Meacham found that cancer survivors were nearly twice as likely as their siblings to take medication for high blood pressure, 60 percent more likely to take cholesterol medication and 70 percent more likely to have diabetes.
Radiation treatment may be playing a role in the development of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, Meacham said. Total body irradiation was linked with a 5.5-fold increased risk and chest and abdomen radiation a 2.2-fold increased risk of cardiovascular risk factor clustering, which when present is associated with subsequent cardiovascular disease.
"Mechanistically, we are not yet sure why this is, but the association is definitely there," said Meacham.
Researchers examined t
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American Association for Cancer Research