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Chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, can increase the risk of developing cancer

Addressing long-term illness could improve cancer prevention strategies, suggest researchers


Gouty arthritis and other chronic diseases can increase the risk of developing cancer. Picture: iStock

The risk of cancer associated with chronic disease is often unheeded, and more could be done with targeted public health measures by addressing long-term illness as a strategic means of promoting health and preventing cancers associated with such predisposing factors.

Data from a large prospective cohort study in Taiwan was used to assess the influence and involvement of chronic disease or its markers to the development of cancer. The 405,878 participants all took part in a comprehensive medical screening programme and had no previous history of cancer. They completed health questionnaires and had medical tests and were followed up for an average of almost nine years.

Five of the more common global causes of chronic disease burden were selected for assessment: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, and gouty arthritis. High chronic disease risk scores, or their markers, were associated with a significantly increased risk of developing cancer and an amplified risk of death. There was an association with chronic disease and markedly reduced life span and the highest scores were associated with 13.3 years of life lost in men and 15.9 years of life lost in women. Physical activity significantly diminished the risk of cancer.


Huakang T, Chi Pang W, Shan Pou T et al (2018) Cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and disease markers: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k134

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