Pediatric brain cancer survivors have more body fat, study says

Study finds childhood brain cancer survivors have more overall fat tissue in the body than children with no cancer.

By Amy Wallace

March 24 (UPI) -- Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, have found that survivors of childhood brain tumors have more body fat, leading to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and early death.

Brain tumors are the most common cause of cancer-related death, and second most common type of cancer diagnosis, in children. Medical advances over the years, however, have led to increased survival rates.


But initial overall survival is often followed by a high risk of several comorbid conditions and early death, according to researchers.

The study found that even when body mass index, or BMI, was similar between survivors of childhood brain tumors and healthy children, survivors of brain cancer had more overall fat tissue, especially around the abdomen.

This increased body fat contributed to diseases later in life such as heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and early death.

"These findings suggest that one of the most important risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which is excess total and central fat in the body, is present relatively early in survivors of childhood brain tumors," Dr. M. Constantine Samaan, an associate professor with the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University and pediatric oncologist at McMaster Children's Hospital, said in a press release.


"This may program their future risk of these diseases and impact their outcomes. This indicates that these children need further monitoring for the factors that increase their risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and that targeted therapies and prevention strategies are needed to deal with the early risk factors to improve survival and the quality of life of survivors."

The study was published in Scientific Reports.

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