Childhood cancer linked to adult obesity

11 May 2015

Individuals who had cancer as a child may be at increased risk of being obese due to the therapies they received during their youth. The finding comes from a new study suggesting the need for effective counseling and weight loss interventions for certain childhood cancer survivors.

A team led by Carmen Wilson, PhD and Kirsten Ness, PhD, of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, designed a study to estimate the prevalence of obesity among childhood cancer survivors and to identify the clinical and treatment-related risks for obesity in these individuals. The study also looked for potential genetic factors that might play a role.

“Minimizing the risk of long-term complications among children with cancer”

The study included 1,996 survivors previously treated for cancer at St. Jude who had been diagnosed with cancer at least 10 years ago. The researchers found that:

  • 47% of survivors who had received cranial radiation were obese, compared with 29.4% of survivors who had not received cranial radiation.
  • The likelihood of obesity increased among survivors treated with cranial radiation who had also received glucocorticoids, or who were younger at the time of diagnosis.
  • Also, certain variants in genes involved with neurons' growth, repair, and connectivity were linked with obesity among survivors treated with cranial radiation.
  • Survivors who had been treated with chest, abdominal, or pelvic radiation were half as likely to be obese as those who did not receive these treatments.

CareAcross-child-serious

Dr. Wilson noted that the findings may help identify cancer survivors who are most likely to become obese, and could provide a foundation for future research efforts aimed at characterizing molecular pathways involved in the link between childhood cancer treatment and obesity. "Also, the ability to identify patients at increased risk may guide selection of therapeutic protocols that will maximize treatment outcomes while simultaneously minimizing the risk of long-term complications among children diagnosed with cancer," said Dr. Ness.

Source: Science Daily
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