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Underweight cancer survivors need special attention for coronary heart disease

Hit : 1,569 Date : 2021-05-24

- - Coronary artery disease risk increases by approximately 97% compared to normal weight

- - Be more careful if you are a survivor of stomach cancer or lung cancer


A person who has been diagnosed with cancer treatment or does not relapse for a long time is called a cancer survivor. In recent years, there have been more than a million cancer survivors in Korea. There has been a steady rise in cancer survivors, and related research is continuing.

On April 9th, Professor Park Min-sun and his team of the Department of Family Medicine at Seoul National University Hospital (Professor Ko Ahryong & Researcher Kim Kyuwoong), published a research paper suggesting that cancer survivors who have been out of normal weight before their cancer diagnosis significantly increase their risk of coronary heart disease.

The study was published in the latest issue of Scientific Reports.

Using the National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort data, the research team tracked 13,500 cancer survivors diagnosed with cancer from 2004-2009 for an average of 5.2 years.
The research team investigated the risk of coronary artery disease by the group classified into 'underweight' (less than 18.5kg/m2), 'Normal' (18.5-22.9kg / m2), 'overweight (23.0-24.9kg / m2)', and 'obese (25kg / m2 or more)' according to the body mass index (BMI) during national examination immediately before cancer diagnosis.

According to the study, all cancer survivors who were out of normal weight before cancer diagnosis were at increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. 'Overweight' and 'obesity' increased the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 38% and 51%, respectively, compared to 'normal'. In particular, if the "underweight", the risk of coronary heart disease occurs increases by 97% and reached about twice.

Hazard ratios for CHD in each prediagnosis BMI category among cancer survivors.


                 Normal                   Overweight           Obese         Underweight 

Graph 1. Hazard ratios for CHD in each prediagnosis BMI category among cancer survivors

All 13,500 cancer survivors were divided into normal (n = 5,305), overweight (n = 3,392), obese (n = 4,182), and underweight (n = 621) group according to the body mass index (BMI). The 'overweight', 'obesity', and 'underweight' groups were, respectively, 38%, 51%, and 97% higher than normal for the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)

The relationship between obesity and coronary heart disease is well known. However, in the case of underweight, it was perceived as relatively less dangerous. The study confirmed that underweight may be more vulnerable to coronary heart disease rather than obesity.

The research team then subdivided the types of cancers to investigate the risk of coronary heart disease in those cancer survivors. As a result, survivors of lung cancer and stomach cancer who were underweight were particularly more at risk. The risk of coronary heart disease increased 3.08 times and 2.99 times, respectively than normal weight. The cancer survivor from the above category will likely need special attention.

"Through this study, we have confirmed that cancer survivors who are obese, as well as underweight, can be easily exposed to the coronary heart disease before a diagnosis of cancer," said Professor Park Minsun of the Department of Family Medicine at Seoul National University Hospital, "and special attention is needed, especially for survivors of stomach and lung cancer."

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