A St. Jude Children's Research Hospital study found that 73 percent of adult survivors of childhood cancer more than doubled their risk of developing metabolic syndrome and related health problems by failing to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle. The results appear in the current issue of the journal Cancer.
Almost 32 percent of the 1,598 adult survivors of childhood cancer in the study had metabolic syndrome, an umbrella term for health risk factors like high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, elevated triglyceride and other abnormalities that often occur together. The prevalence was similar to rates reported for much older adults in the general public. Metabolic syndrome is associated with greater odds of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other potentially fatal health problems.
Researchers reported that adult survivors of childhood cancer who failed to adopt a lifestyle that included regular exercise and a healthy diet were more than twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome as survivors who did. The risk was 2.4 times higher in women and 2.2 times greater in men.
Lifestyle had a greater impact on the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome than risk factors associated with childhood cancer treatment, including cranial irradiation.
"This is good news for the nation's growing population of adult survivors of childhood cancer," said corresponding author Kirsten Ness, Ph.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. "This suggests that if you maintain a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating a diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt and rich in fruit and vegetables you should be able to influence whether or not you develop metabolic syndrome."
The United States is home to more than 360,000 childhood cancer survivors. With childhood cancer survival rates now better than 80 percent, the survivor population is expected to grow. Previous research
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital