Impact of Chronic Diseases on Cancer Risk

Impact of Chronic Diseases on Cancer Risk

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Highlights:
  • Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, and gouty arthritis are some chronic diseases that increase a person's life time risk of developing cancer.
  • 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 cancer death.
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. The study is published by The BMJ.
Impact of Chronic Diseases on Cancer Risk

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 risk 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 Overview

The 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 measured.

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.

Study findings

  • 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.
  • Cardiovascular 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.

Study limitations

The 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.

References:
  1. Huakang Tu et al. Cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and disease markers: prospective cohort study, BMJ (2018). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k134
Source-Medindia

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