Does Childhood Cancer Lead To Heart Disease In The Future?
Statistics indicate that childhood cancers constitute three-four per cent of all cancers and in India, nearly 40 to 50 thousands new cases are registered each year. This increasing incidence of childhood cancer can be attributed to industrialization and technological advancement. The most common forms of cancer among children are leukaemia and lymphomas followed by tumours of the brain and central nervous system. Some rare childhood cancers like cancer of the eyes have also become a concern of present times.
The Silver Lining
Around 70-90 per cent of all childhood cancers are curable. However, extra care must be taken of the survivors because prolonged cancer treatment puts children at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in the future (a survivor can be affected in his/her thirties). It is thus imperative that childhood cancer survivors are made to consume a healthy and balanced diet, kept away from alcohol consumption and smoking, get adequate exercise as well as exposure to natural sunlight and regularly visit the doctor.
Recent research has proved that chemotherapy and radiation can be cardio-toxic in nature. Some of the drugs used during cancer treatment can weaken the heart muscle. radiation therapy has been linked to cardiac rhythm disorders and a structural damage of the valves and arteries. Therefore, the onus lies on the medical fraternity to identify high risk patients and closely monitor them to rule out heart disease.
“Parents should ensure that all the necessary precautions have been taken to save their child from future heart trouble, besides regularly taking them for a complete health check-up”
While it is not possible to eliminate the risks that cancer treatment brings upon ones future heart health, taking necessary precautions and regularly monitoring the patient’s health can go a long way in helping delay disease onset. Parents should ensure that all the necessary precautions have been taken to save their child from future heart trouble, besides regularly taking them for a complete health check-up. They should keep detailed records of their child s treatment history and must also disclose it the child has any other risks of heart disease, such as a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Childhood cancer survivors must keep a check on any unusual symptoms which they may notice as they get older. In case symptoms like shortness of breath, unusual chest pain, and palpitations occur, it should be brought to immediate medical attention without ignoring it.
They must also live a disciplined life and adopt healthy habits such as :
Consumption Of A Balanced Diet
Food items high in saturated fats including processed meats such as sausages and salami, packaged cakes and biscuits, butter, cheese and fried foods should be avoided. Items like potatoes. white rice, white bread, red meat and sugar sweetened beverages which have high doses of carbohydrates, sugar and salt should be consumed in restricted quantities. A diet comprising of fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, dietary fibre, whole grains, beans, nuts, poultry, and fish. Also, all rich sources of protein are recommended.
Managing Stress Effectively
Cancer is an emotionally draining disease which causes immense stress to both the patients and their families. Stress is also a key factor which contributes to the development of heart disease. It is thus advised that stress is managed in a healthy and effective manner. Yoga. meditation and outdoor physical exercise are good ways of dealing with stress. Family and friends also play an intrinsic role in helping overcome stressful situations. Patients must ensure the avoidance of working in high-stress environments since this can have a long-term impact on their heart health.
Saying No To Tobacco And Alcohol
Cigarette smoking and binge drinking can be harmful even for a healthy heart. Staying away from these evils is of uttermost importance for cancer survivors. Cigarette smoking causes hypertension, reduces lung functioning and increases the risk of coronary heart disease by two folds.
Heart disease and cancer are interlinked. In adults they also have common lifestyle motivators and therefore living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is very important during an age where the incidence of both the diseases continue to rise. Exposure to radiation and environmental pollution has also made the situation worse. While childhood cancer cannot be prevented in most cases, future heart disease.