Childhood Cancer Survivors Are Twice as Likely to Have This Health Condition

Lauren Rearick
A3pfamily /Shutterstock
A3pfamily /Shutterstock

An increase in blood pressure can often come without any warning signs, but there are ways to combat the condition that often leads to cardiovascular disease. Experts have previously warned that circumstances including being overweight, heavy alcohol consumption, a diet high in sodium, use of birth control, a lifestyle without much activity and increased stress or anxiety can all lead to high blood pressure, but a new study from the Epidemiology/Cancer Control department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, is warning of another contributing factor. Based on research conducted by Todd Gibson, assistant faculty member of St. Jude's Children Research Hospital, survivors of childhood cancer are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as adults. The findings, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, also notes that adults who were treated with forms of therapy including chemotherapy or chest radiation are even more likely to see an impact on their health if they develop high blood pressure. Certain demographics and backgrounds of the study's participants including men, non-Hispanic blacks, older survivors, and those who were overweight or obese were even more likely to have high blood pressure. For the study, 3,106 adults who survived childhood cancer and continue to participate in a St. Jude's program that monitors their health provided blood pressure rates during a single visit. In the case of this study, high blood pressure was defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140 or greater, a diastolic blood pressure of 90 or greater or if a participant had received a previous diagnosis of high blood pressure. Despite the study's initial findings, Gibson said that future research is needed, and until more is known, "clinicians should be mindful that survivors of childhood cancer are more likely than the general public to develop high blood pressure." "The good news is that, unlike prior cancer therapy, high blood pressure is a modifiable risk factor," Gibson noted. "Research is needed to identify effective interventions to prevent hypertension in survivors, but our results emphasize the importance of blood pressure surveillance and management." There are ways to ensure low blood pressure, including watching the foods you eat, losing weight, incorporating exercise into your routine, taking the time to relax, and watching how much caffeine you consume. Here are 31 things you can do today to start lowering your blood pressure.