Childhood Cancer Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Problems

A study held in Germany has suggested that survivors of cancer in their childhood years suffer a higher risk of developing heart problems, as compared to those who were not afflicted by the disease. The research also found that such individuals usually experienced related risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol earlier in life as compared to their counterparts.

Childhood Cancer Scares and Heart Disease

The European study featured 950 candidates who had suffered from some form of cancer before their 15th birthday, and were aged between 23 and 48. 15, 000 people who did not have cancer as children were also included in the research. The candidates were taken through a variety of tests to identify risk factors related to conditions such as heart disease, strokes, heart failure and heart attacks.

The results of these tests indicated that individuals who suffered from cancer in their childhood were more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. This group also exhibited signs of developing these problems six and eight years sooner than the general public in most cases respectively. 4.5% of survivors suffered from a variety of diseases such as blood clots and heart failure, with most of these cases taking place before their 40th birthday.

Living with the Risk Factor

Dr. John Groarke, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School stated that though these individuals cannot change the experience that led to this enhanced risk, they can actively work towards making up ground in the battle for prevention. The doctor mentioned that such people should avoid a couple of elements such as leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and promoting eating habits that could lead to obesity.

Research Results

The study discovered that heart disease was the second most common problem affecting cancer survivors in their youth. Related studies connected a number of chemotherapies as the cause behind the weakening of the heart muscles, while some radiotherapy alternatives led to damage in the heart’s valves and arteries, as well as cardiac rhythm disorders.  From those involved with the study, a majority of the candidates had suffered from Leukemia when they were younger, with tumors in the kidneys, Central Nervous System, and lymphoma making a regular appearance as well. Half of the candidates had undergone both radiation and chemotherapy during their treatment.

It should be noted that survivors of childhood cancer scares were in no more risk of diabetes or obesity as a result of their past experience, despite these conditions representing a risk factor for heart complications. Researchers also concluded that there were fewer cases of strokes and heart attacks due to the relatively young nature of the age bracket studied.

In conclusion, Dr. Faber of the University Children’s Hospital stated that individuals who may have suffered from cancer early on in their childhood will need to take extra care with regard to their cardiovascular health. He also highlighted the importance of getting screened in order to diagnose any potential complications in good time.