Childhood cancer raises risk of obesity

Having childhood cancer can increase the risk of obesity in later life, a study has found.

The cause is the treatment, not the cancer, according to the research.

Scientists analysed data on 1,996 cancer survivors who had been diagnosed at least 10 years previously when they were children.

They found that 47% of those who received cranial radiation therapy to prevent cancer spread to the brain were obese compared with 29.4% of those not given the treatment.

The risk of obesity rose among survivors treated with radiation who also received glucocorticoid steroid drugs or who were younger at the time of diagnosis.

Certain gene variants linked to the growth, repair and connectivity of neurons were associated with obesity in individuals who underwent cranial radiotherapy.

Researcher Dr Kirsten Ness, from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, US, said: “The ability to identify patients at increased risk may guide selection of therapeutic protocols that will maximise treatment outcomes while simultaneously minimising the risk of long-term complications among children diagnosed with cancer.”

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