Pediatric cancers


Roundup: Overall Pediatric Cancer Rate has Increased Since 2003; Active Older Adults See Better ‘Quality of Life’ Than Sedentary Peers; and More News

While Still Rare, Childhood Cancer Cases have Increased Since 2003, Says New U.S. Data

While pediatric cancers remain rare and more children are surviving with advanced treatments, childhood cancer diagnoses are about 8 percent higher than they were in 2003, according to new research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

While the overall incidence rate of pediatric cancers increased 0.5 percent per year, on average, during 2003-2019, the rate decreased during 2016-2019 by about 2.1 percent. During 2003-2019, rates of leukemia, lymphoma, hepatic tumors, bone tumors, and thyroid carcinomas increased, while melanoma rates decreased. CNS (central nervous system) neoplasms rates increased until 2017 and then decreased, the study states.

With 248,749 cases reported during 2003-2019, the overall cancer incidence rate was 178.3 per 1 million; incidence rates were highest for leukemia (46.6), central nervous system (CNS) neoplasms (30.8), and lymphoma (27.3). "Rates were highest for males, children aged 0-4 years, and non-Hispanic White children and adolescents," the study states.

Researchers used data from medical records that were compiled in the cancer statistics database of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All 50 states were reporting data by 2003.

The study concludes: "Incidence of pediatric cancer increased overall, although increases were limited to certain cancer types. These findings may guide future public health and research priorities."

Overall, rates of cancer may have increased due to changes in cancer reporting over the past two  decades, such as the increased use of electronic pathology reporting to cancer registries, the study states.

Some increases or decreases in pediatric cancer rates could be the result of "changing trends in cancer risk factors related to preconception and pregnancy (smoking, assisted reproductive technology), birth (increasing maternal age, low birth weight), or childhood and adolescent life (infection exposure, residential chemicals, radiation exposure, use of sunscreen)," said the study's authors.

More Physical Activity Among Adults 60 and Older Improved ‘Quality of Life’ Scores, Researchers Find

Another study reinforces the link between physical activity among older adults and a better quality of life, compared to maintaining sedentary lifestyles. The new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. focused on activity levels among 1,433 participants aged 60 and older using accelerometers.

The participants had been recruited for the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer) Norfolk study. Accelerometers are commonly used in clinical and epidemiological research for more detailed measures of physical activity. The researchers also looked at “health-related quality of life, a measure of health and well-being that includes pain, ability to care for yourself and anxiety/mood,” according to a news release from the University of Cambridge.

Lower quality-of-life scores were associated with “an increased risk of hospitalization, worse outcomes following hospitalization, and early death,” researcher said. Participants were followed up an average of just under six years later.

On average, both men and women were doing about 24 minutes less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. At the same time, the total sedentary time increased by an average of about 33 minutes a day for men, and about 38 minutes a day for women.

Participants were given a score between 0 (worst quality of life) and 1 (best) -- based on their responses to a questionnaire. Those individuals who did more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and spent less time sedentary at their first assessment, had a higher quality of life later on.

An hour a day spent more active was associated with a 0.02 higher quality of life score. For every minute a day less of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity measured six years after the first assessment, quality of life scores dropped by 0.03. This means that an individual who spent 15 minutes a day less engaged in such activity would have seen their score drop by 0.45.

As you get older, staying physically active also promotes bone health. If a person is able to exercise, then performing regular weight-resistance exercises, even with light weights, can be extremely beneficial. This applies to older adults looking to prevent loss of bone density. Aerobic health can be achieved by brisk walking.

For overall health, the U.S. guidelines urge at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, at least 5 days per week, for a total of 150 -- or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, at least 3 days per week, for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week are recommended for additional health benefits.

Regular exercise, or just staying physically active, can reduce your risk for most chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin D Supplements Could Reduce Risk of Heart Attacks in Adults 60 and Older, Study Finds

A new study found some benefits of taking vitamin D supplement to reduce the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular event in older adults.

The findings of the “D-Health Trial” -- published in the journal The BMJ -- took place from 2014 to 2020 and involved 21,315 participants, aged 60 to 84. About half of the trial participants received one capsule of 60,000-IU of vitamin D, while the other half received a placebo. Both groups took the supplements at the beginning of each month for up to five years.

Researchers found that the rate of major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, was 9 percent lower in the vitamin D group, compared to a placebo group not taking vitamin D. The rate of heart attack was 19 percent lower, and the rate of coronary revascularization (a procedure or surgery to improve blood flow to the heart) was 11 percent lower in the vitamin D group.

However, there was no difference in the rate of stroke between the two groups. While the reduction in the incidence of major cardiovascular events, like heart attack or stroke, were small, researchers say these findings should lead to further studies.

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is naturally acquired naturally through certain foods and exposure to sunlight. Everyone should consult with the doctor before taking vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D serves several functions to maintain one’s health. It regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus -- which is crucial for healthy bones, teeth and muscles -- and facilitates normal immune system function. Vitamin deficiency is widespread in the U.S.

The new study concludes: "These findings could prompt further evaluation of the role of vitamin D supplementation, particularly in people taking drugs for prevention or treatment of cardiovascular disease."

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