Children of parents diagnosed with cancer when they're old are at increased risk for certain types of cancer, a new study suggests.
It was known that children of parents diagnosed with cancer at a younger age are at increased risk for cancer, but it wasn't clear if there also was a hereditary risk for children whose parents were diagnosed when they were older.
Researchers analysed Swedish data on nearly 8 million people and their parents. The highest cancer risk in children was among those whose parents were diagnosed with cancer at earlier ages, according to the study, which was published online in the BMJ.
The risk of the same type of cancer in children, however, was also significantly higher among those whose parents were diagnosed when they were 80 or older.
Avoid known modifiable risk factors
The increased risks in all children were: 1.6% for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 2.8% for urinary/bladder cancer, 3.5% for skin cancer, 4.6% for melanoma skin cancer, 5% for lung cancer, 6.4% for colorectal cancer, 8.8% for breast cancer and 30.1% for prostate cancer.
The researchers also found that between 35% and 81% of all cancers in parents occurred when they were older than 69 years: 35 percent for melanoma, 41%for breast, 54% for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 56% for lung, 59% for colorectal, 62% for urinary/bladder, 75% for prostate and 81%for skin cancer.
Non-genetic factors could not explain the increased risk of cancer among children of parents who had been diagnosed with cancer. This means that familial cancer risks are largely due to genetics, the researchers concluded in a journal news release.
Knowing that they're at increased risk for a particular cancer could help children avoid known modifiable risk factors for that cancer, according to the study authors.
Although the study found a link between older parents with cancer and higher risk in their children, it did not prove cause and effect.
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