MAY 13, 2020 9:25 AM PDT

What role does geography play in childhood cancer?

Research published in the International Journal of Health Geographics aims to explain the role that geography plays in pediatric cancer diagnoses. While genetics does play into childhood cancer, it is not as influential as some may think. This begs the question - if not nature, what part of nurture is affecting these children? 

This study was conducted on children with pediatric cancer in Switzerland, where about 250 children are diagnosed with cancer annually. Several environmental factors are thought to potentially play a role in their diagnoses, including ionizing radiation (natural background radiation, medical diagnostic radiation), air pollution, electromagnetic fields or pesticides, but as one author of the study points out, these are merely speculations.

Photo: Pixabay

"The results of previous studies of these factors do not allow us to draw any firm conclusions" explains Ben Spycher of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern, the last author of the study. 

Spycher and his fellow researchers at the ISPM and Swiss Paediatric Oncology Group SPOG  utilized data from Switzerland’s national Childhood Cancer Registry which holds records dating back to 1976. They used statistical models indicating the children’s home addresses, ages, and diagnoses to determine if increased exposure levels in certain areas correlate with locally increased cancer risks. 

They found that indeed, in two regions of the country, there is a slight increase in the risk of brain tumors. The two regions with an increased incidence of brain tumors were in the north of the canton of Zurich (border area with the canton of Schaffhausen) and in the Seeland. "Further analyses showed that the risk increase mainly concerns the group of embryonal brain tumors," says co-author Roland Ammann, from the University Clinic for Pediatrics at the Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern.

While the researchers considered the influence of urbanization, socio-economic position, and environmental factors (nitrogen dioxide concentration and natural background radiation), these factors only partially explained the spatial variability of the cancer rate and did not explain the increased rates of brain tumors seen in the two aforementioned regions.

"We conclude that the search for environmental risk factors of brain tumors should be intensified," says Spycher. Roland Ammann adds: "The various subgroups of brain tumors should be considered separately. At this stage, we cannot say what might explain the observed differences in Switzerland, this needs to be further investigated," says Spycher.

Sources: International Journal of Health, Eureka Alert

About the Author
You May Also Like
JUN 30, 2022
Cancer
Differences between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
JUN 30, 2022
Differences between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Lymphoma, broadly, describes a type of cancer that develops in the lymph system, a complex network made up of organs, no ...
SEP 19, 2022
Cancer
Smoking Cessation Impacted by the COVID Pandemic
SEP 19, 2022
Smoking Cessation Impacted by the COVID Pandemic
Smoking remains a major risk factor for several types of cancer.  While the association between lung cancer and smo ...
OCT 07, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
A wearable sensor that can monitor tumor size changes in real-time
OCT 07, 2022
A wearable sensor that can monitor tumor size changes in real-time
As cancer drugs are developed, one important process the drug goes through is testing in experimental animals. The use o ...
OCT 10, 2022
Cancer
Experimental Drug Can Create Targets for Cancer-Killing Drugs
OCT 10, 2022
Experimental Drug Can Create Targets for Cancer-Killing Drugs
Immunotherapies continue to expand the cancer treatment landscape, providing new and exciting approaches to treat tumors ...
NOV 13, 2022
Microbiology
A Cancer-Linked Microbe Can Use a Dietary Nutrient to Survive
NOV 13, 2022
A Cancer-Linked Microbe Can Use a Dietary Nutrient to Survive
The microbes in the human gastrointestinal tract, known as the gut microbiome, have a significant impact on out health a ...
NOV 24, 2022
Cancer
Pass the Cranberries- They Just Might Help Prevent Cancer
NOV 24, 2022
Pass the Cranberries- They Just Might Help Prevent Cancer
Today across the United States, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, a day to give thanks for the previous year&rs ...
Loading Comments...