Survivors of pediatric cancer are at greater risk for high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which predispose them to heart disease, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Lillian R. Meacham, MD, 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, according to an AACR news release. 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 cancer survivors were nearly twice as likely as their siblings to take medication for high blood pressure, 60% more likely to take cholesterol medication and 70% more likely to have diabetes.
Researchers also found that physical inactivity among cancer survivors was linked with a 70% increased risk for cardiovascular risk factor clustering. Older age at the time of the study was linked to an 8.2-fold increased risk for cardiovascular risk factor clustering among survivors compared with children who never had cancer.
These risk factors are manifesting at about age 32, which is much younger than a non-cancer survivor would exhibit signs of cardiovascular risk factors, Meacham said.