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Childhood cancer raises obesity risk

12 May 2015 10:28

Childhood cancer increases the risk of obesity in adulthood

Childhood cancer increases the risk of obesity in adulthood

People diagnosed with cancer during childhood face an increased risk of obesity in later life, it is claimed.

American researchers found treatment to be the cause of weight gain as survivors get older, rather than the cause being the actual cancer.

The findings could be used to strike a balance between getting the best from treatments while minimising long-term consequences.

Childhood cancer statistics

Childhood cancers make up less than 1% of overall cases of the disease - according to charity Cancer Research UK. Each year sees around 1,600 children diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

Patients and survivors of all ages can arrange cancer travel insurance when taking a holiday or travelling.

What the research says

The team of researchers at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis examined statistics for 1,996 cancer survivors who had been diagnosed when they were children.

Nearly half of those who received cranial radiation therapy to the head to prevent cancer spread to the brain were found to be obese compared with 29.4% of those not given the treatment.

What the experts say

Researcher Dr Kirsten Ness says the findings may help identify young cancer survivors most at risk of obesity.

She claims this ability could help guide selection of therapeutic protocols that will maximise treatment outcomes and minimise the risk of long-term complications among children diagnosed with cancer.