Women treated for breast cancer may age faster than cancer-free women
NIH study finds radiation shows strongest association, less for surgery and endocrine treatments
Women diagnosed and treated for breast cancer have increased biological aging compared to women who remain free of breast cancer, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their collaborators. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, the association with faster biological aging was most pronounced for those who received radiation therapy, while surgery showed no association with biological aging. This finding suggests that developing cancer is not what increases the aging effect.
“Of the three treatment classes we looked at, radiation therapy had the strongest associations with the biologic age measures assessed in the study,” noted Jack Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author on the paper who is an Emeritus Scientist at NIEHS. “The increases can be detected years after treatment.”
Biological age reflects a person’s cell and tissue health, and it differs from chronological age. To measure biological age, the researchers studied 417 women who had blood samples collected at two time points about eight years apart. About half of the women studied were selected because they had developed breast cancer during that time span. The participants are enrolled in the Sister Study, a research effort that seeks to identify environmental risk factors for breast cancer risk and other health conditions, led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH.
This page was last updated on Thursday, July 20, 2023