A new St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital study reports that Pediatric cancer survivors have a significantly higher risk (32%) of developing metabolic syndrome as adults.
Metabolic syndrome (also known as insulin resistance syndrome, dysmetabolic syndrome, multiple metabolic syndrome and cardiometabolic syndrome) is a serious health condition that can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls. Additionally, it is becoming quite evident that metabolic syndrome also promotes cancer development, growth and recurrence.
What causes metabolic syndrome?
Although a variety of factors have been proposed, it is felt that insulin resistance is not only part of this syndrome, but may actually be the cause of the entire syndrome. Cancer patients and survivors have chronic inflammation related to their treatments and other causes. We know that chronic systemic inflammation can lead to insulin resistance, and thus may be the initiating factor. Integrative oncology focuses heavily on educating our patients on the causes of systemic inflammation, identifying those causes and teaching them how to minimize them. (Read more about inflammation and cancer.)
Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three or more of the following measurements:
- Central or abdominal obesity (measured by waist circumference):
- Men – Greater than 40 inches
- Women – Greater than 35 inches
- Fasting blood triglycerides greater than or equal to 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL)
- Blood HDL cholesterol:
- Men – Less than 40 mg/dL
- Women – Less than 50 mg/dL
- Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
- Fasting glucose greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL
What can you do to reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome?
The American Heart Association promotes many of the same recommendations that integrative oncologists promote as part of the anticancer lifestyle. The AHA has a educational tool called “My Life Check” which teaches the following:
The St. Jude’s study found that there was a 220-240% increase risk of developing metabolic syndrome in pediatric cancer survivors as adults when they did not follow these healthful lifestyle recommendations.
I highly recommend that all pediatric cancer patients and survivors see an integrative oncologist to help them learn about the many ways they can reduce their risk of developing this potentially serious chronic condition.