A new study
that took into account eight most common chronic diseases including diabetes,
cardiovascular disease and kidney disease found that the diseases have a significant
contribution towards increasing cancer risk.
disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, and gouty
arthritis are some chronic diseases that increase a person's life time risk of
- Chronic diseases account for more than a fifth of new cancer cases
and more than a third of cancer deaths.
- A higher chronic disease score is associated with a more than twofold
increase in risk of developing cancer and a fourfold increase in risk of
The study is published by The BMJ.
Until now, the role of chronic diseases on cancer risk has been largely
overlooked when compared to lifestyle changes. While previous studies
have identified that certain chronic diseases may predispose a person to
cancer, these studies only assessed the cancer
of individual chronic disease or disease markers. Since chronic
diseases tend to be clustered, it is crucial that we understand the joint
impact of these diseases on cancer.
study participants included 405,878 men and women in Taiwan with no history of
cancer. The volunteers were asked to fill a questionnaire on medical history,
lifestyle, and demographic information. They also underwent a series of medical
tests between 1996 and 2007. Physical activity and leisure time were also
‘Common chronic diseases increase the risk of developing cancer and, physical activity can reduce 40% of the excess risk of cancer associated with chronic diseases and disease markers.’
The participants were
evaluated for eight common chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease,
diabetes, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, and gouty
arthritis measured by distinct markers for each disease.
The research team also
assessed if physical activity reduced the risk of chronic diseases on cancer.
Participants were followed for an average of 8.7 years.
- Chronic diseases
together account for more than a fifth of new cancer cases and more than a
third of cancer deaths.
- Cancer risk from
individual common chronic diseases is as important as five major combined
lifestyle changes - smoking, insufficient physical activity, insufficient
fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol consumption, and obesity.
disease markers, diabetes, chronic kidney
disease markers, pulmonary disease and gouty arthritis marker were found
to be individually associated with risk of developing cancer.
- The highest
chronic disease risk score was associated with a twofold increase in risk
of developing cancer and a fourfold increase in risk of cancer death.
- Higher chronic
disease risk scores were also associated with a reduction in life span.
The highest scores correlated with 13.3 years of life lost in men and 15.9
years of life lost in women. Years
of life lost can be explained as the average years a person would have
lived if he or she had not died due to the disease.
- Physical activity
reduced nearly 40% of the excess risks of cancer and cancer death associated
with chronic diseases and markers.
findings were based on an observational study and hence no conclusions can be
drawn about the cause and effect. Also, the team cannot rule out that the
cancer risk is not due to other unmeasured factors.
- Huakang Tu et al. Cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and disease markers: prospective cohort study, BMJ (2018). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k134