(NaturalNews) Women who were treated for cancer with radiation as children are significantly more likely to suffer from stillbirth or have an infant die shortly after birth, according to a study conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University.
Researchers looked at records of 4,946 pregnancies involving a male or female parent who had survived a childhood cancer. The data were taken from more than 20,000 people diagnosed with childhood cancers between 1970 and 1986.
No correlation was found between stillbirth and neonatal death in men or in women treated with chemotherapy alone, but radiation to the pelvis increased women's risk by 13 percent.
The effect may occur because radiation restricts blood flow to the uterus, hampering fetal growth. Another cause may be radiation-induced DNA damage to a girl's eggs, eventually producing a defective fetus. The researchers believe that men appeared unaffected because they continue to produce new sperm throughout their lives.
"If you were a young girl treated with radiotherapy into your pelvis and you want to become pregnant, you can, but make sure to tell your doctor and be aware it might be a difficult pregnancy," lead author John Boice said.
The study is only the latest showing long-term health consequences for cancer treatment in childhood. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that even 25 years later, childhood cancer survivors are more likely than their peers to die from heart attacks, strokes or another cancer.
"Most conventional cancer therapies damage at least as much healthy tissue as cancer tissue, " writes Phyllis A. Balch in Prescription for Herbal Healing.
"Radiation therapy can cause adverse, even lethal, side effects," she notes. "[S]troke rates increase by five times in people who have undergone radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. ... Even though radiation therapy may cure cancer, nonrelated cancer deaths seem to be a long-term side effect to radiation."
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