Pediatrics researchers at Emory University in Atlanta have come across a troubling and disheartening correlation in a recent study; pediatric cancer survivors are at a great risk of developing a number of moderate-to-serious health problems as they grow older, such as diabetes, high-cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Each of these illnesses can and often lead to heart disease.
The study, published recently in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, highlights how these particular health problems are showing up much earlier in this particular group of individuals.
"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," says Dr. Lillian Meacham, professor of pediatrics at Emory. "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 and her team are looking at a number of factors that may lead to the higher rates of heart disease these young cancer survivors face, and radiation treatment is at the forefront. According to the study, total body irradiation is positively linked with a drastic increase for the development of cardiovascular disease.
With these new, troubling correlations being studied, hopefully there may soon be some intervention possibilities for the young survivors. For more information on this study, visit the Emory press release, detailing Meacham’s study.