Childhood cancer survivors are at much greater risk of developing diabetes than their siblings, especially if their treatment involved radiation of the abdomen or total body, a new study reports.
At highest risk were adults who survived acute myeloid leukemia after total body irradiation, done in conjunction with a bone marrow transplant, the study found. Those survivors were almost 24 times as likely as their siblings to develop Type 2 diabetes as adults. Children with this form of leukemia who did not undergo total body irradiation were three times as likely as their siblings to develop diabetes.
Cancer survivors who had been treated with radiation to the abdomen were also at higher risk for diabetes, with neuroblastoma survivors at 9.2 times greater risk, and survivors of both Hodgkin's lymphoma and Wilms' tumor, a type of kidney cancer, at 2.7 times greater risk.
Many of the survivors are not obese, but radiation might have altered the way they deposit fat and contribute to their risk, said Dr. Kevin C. Oeffinger, director the Program for Adult Survivors of Pediatric Cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and senior author of the study. The findings appeared in The Archives of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Oeffinger suggested cancer survivors watch their diets and get plenty of physical activity.