Childhood Radiation Could Mean Diabetes in Adulthood

Childhood Radiation Could Mean Diabetes in Adulthood: Every year we are learning more ways to reduce certain risks for diabetes, but there are the occasions where the standard rules don’t apply. New research indicates individuals who underwent radiation therapy for childhood cancer may be at substantially greater risk for diabetes within 30 years of their radiation therapy.

This research was recently presented through the Archives of Internal Medicine. According to the traditional indicators for Type 2 diabetes may not present in these cases, “This correlation does not appear to be related to patients’ body mass index or physical inactivity.”

In other words for the individual who underwent radiation therapy as a child there may be a risk for diabetes that does not depend on weight or how often you exercise.

Three-fourths of all children who battle cancer and win will likely develop a chronic health problem later in life. According to, “Survivors diagnosed with cancer before age 5 were 2.4 times more likely to report diabetes than those diagnosed in late adolescence (from ages 15 to 20).” Other chronic health issues include heart and kidney abnormalities.

The common belief is that radiation not only kills cancer cells, but damages vital organs that can ultimately lead to lifestyle altering diseases following the cumulative effects of long-term damage. Researchers are quoted as saying, “It is likely that this additional chronic disease in childhood cancer survivors, who frequently also sustain damage to the heart, kidneys and endocrine system, will lead to further morbidity and premature mortality.”

As scientists learn more about the link between childhood radiation and the diabetic link there will be a greater emphasis in long-term care. Researchers stated, “It is imperative that clinicians recognize this risk, screen for diabetes and prediabetes when appropriate and approach survivors with aggressive risk-reducing strategies.”

Scientists are determining and have determined risks in this medical category that can be reduced in order to aid in the greatest quality of life as well as life longevity.

It would make no sense to simply stand aside and declare this issue a proverbial ‘death sentence’. The truth is there are ways to manage this disease under this scenario and may simply be considered an unpleasant side effect that can be treated.

Scientists do suggest, “Further research is warranted to understand the pathways by which these two modes of radiation therapy (abdominal and total body) lead to diabetes.”

In some cases it is believed that the radiation experienced in childhood create an atmosphere where alterations in the function of vital organs create conditions needed for the development of chronic medical conditions later in life. It is also possible that the radiation alters the normal secretions of hormones the body uses to function normally. While the human body can adjust to a certain degree there may come a time when the ‘new’ normal is so out of sync that unexpected illnesses make themselves known.

There is a valid reason for doctors to question you about everything related to your medical history. It may seem a sizeable challenge to fill out all the paperwork and answer all the questions, but there are multiple side effects that can be present between different prescription drugs. There can also be side effects from previous procedures that may have some bearing on your medical conditions today. Take the time to help your health care provider understand your unique situation so they can take the best course of action to help you fully live life.