Chemotherapy survivors face huge risk of death for decades after

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: chemotherapy, risks, health news

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(NaturalNews) Survivors of childhood cancers are significantly more likely to die prematurely from all causes than adults in the general population, according to a study conducted by researchers from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"These findings confirm the importance of very long-term outcome data and that survivors should be able to access health care programs even decades after treatment," said lead researcher Raoul Reulen.

The researchers analyzed the medical records of 17,891 people who had been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15 between 1940 and 1991, and who had then survived for at least five years. All participants were then followed through 2006.

The overall death rate in the study sample was 11 times higher than in the general population, the researchers found. The longer a patient survived after cancer treatment the lower the risk became. Even so, the risk of death 45 years after cancer diagnosis was still an astonishing seven times higher than in the general population.

Reulen said that "excess mortality may be related to long-term complications of treatment" with radiation or chemotherapy drugs.

"Chemotherapy is the administration of highly toxic medications meant to kill cancer cells," writes Phyllis A. Balch, in her book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition.

"Most chemotherapy medications destroy normal cells in the process, causing adverse side effects including hair loss, extreme nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, sterility, and damage to the kidneys and heart."

When the researchers analyzed the cause of death in the study population, they found that only 7 percent were due to recurrence of the childhood cancer. Fully 77 percent were due either a new cancer, heart disease, or cerebrovascular disease.

This confirms the result of a study concluded last year, which found that survivors of childhood cancers suffer from a heightened risk of cardiac problems up to 30 years after their initial treatment.

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