Childhood Cancer Survivorship Linked to Diabetes Mellitus

Risk of diabetes is especially high in those who received irradiation as children

FRIDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- In young adulthood, childhood cancer survivors have an almost doubled risk of diabetes compared to their siblings, and the risk is especially high among those who received either total body or abdominal irradiation, according to a study published in the Aug. 10/24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Lillian R. Meacham, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues studied 8,599 childhood cancer survivors (mean age, 31.5 years) who were diagnosed between 1970 and 1986 and 2,936 of their randomly selected siblings (mean age, 33.4 years).

Overall, the researchers found that survivors were 1.8 times more likely than their siblings to report diabetes. After adjusting for factors such as body mass index, their models showed that total body irradiation, abdominal irradiation, use of alkylating agents, and younger age at diagnosis were independently associated with an elevated risk of diabetes (odds ratios, 7.2, 2.7, 1.7, and 2.4, respectively).

"It is likely that this additional chronic disease in childhood cancer survivors, who frequently also sustain damage to the heart, kidneys, and endocrine system, will lead to further morbidity and premature mortality," the authors conclude. "Therefore, it is imperative that clinicians recognize this risk, screen for diabetes and pre-diabetes when appropriate, and approach survivors with aggressive risk-reducing strategies."

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Rick Ansorge

Rick Ansorge

Published on August 14, 2009

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