British scientists have found that increased exposure to infections in early infancy, as staying in a day-care center, may reduce the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The study results were compiled from 6305 children across ten regions of UK of age 2 to 14 yrs without cancer and 3140 children with cancer, of whom 1286 had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Day care and social activities were taken as places were children could be most exposed to infections.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a form of cancer that affects the lymphocyte producing cells. These cells stay in the bone marrow. Lymphocytes are white blood cells are the most important ingredient of the body's immunity. In ALL, there is an accumulation of lymphocyte precursor cells, also called blast cells, in the bone marrow.
The results of the study showed that increased social activities could be related to lower risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. On one hand, the children with cancer and those who were healthy were found to have similar risk from infections, with or without being in day-care. However, when children with other forms of cancer were related to those suffering from ALL, formal day-care center seems to act as a protective factor against onset of ALL.