European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 257–265

Childhood infectious disease and premature death from cancer: a prospective cohort study

  • Peter W. G. Tennant
  • Louise Parker
  • Julian E. Thomas
  • Sir Alan W. Craft
  • Mark S. Pearce
CANCER

Abstract

Studies of the association between early life infections and cancer have produced inconsistent findings, possibly due to limited adjustment for confounding and retrospective designs. This study utilised data from the Newcastle Thousand Families Study, a prospective cohort of 1,142 individuals born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1947, to assess the impact of various childhood infectious diseases on cancer mortality during ages 15–60 years. Detailed information was collected prospectively on a number of early life factors. Deaths from cancer during ages 15–60 years were analysed in relation to childhood infections, adjusting for potential early-life confounders, using Cox proportional-hazards regression. In a subsample who returned questionnaires at aged 49–51 years, additional adjustment was made for adult factors to predict death from cancer during ages 50–60 years. Childhood history of measles and influenza, were both independently associated with lower cancer mortality during ages 15–60 years (adjusted hazard ratios = 0.39, 95 % CI 0.17–0.88 and 0.49, 95 % CI 0.24–0.98 respectively). In contrast, childhood pertussis was associated with higher cancer mortality during ages 15–60 years (adjusted hazard ratio = 4.88, 95 % CI 2.29–10.38). In the subsample with additional adjustment for adult variables, measles and pertussis remained significantly associated with cancer mortality during ages 50–60 years. In this pre-vaccination cohort, childhood infection with measles and influenza were associated with a reduced risk of death from cancer in adulthood, while pertussis was associated with an increased risk. While these results suggest some disease-specific associations between early-life infections and cancer, further studies are required to confirm the specific associations identified.

Keywords

Epidemiology Communicable diseases Malignancy Pertussis Measles 

Supplementary material

10654_2013_9775_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    World Health Organization. Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press; 2009. Available from: http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GlobalHealthRisks_report_full.pdf (accessed 6 July 2012).
  2. 2.
    Blackwell DL, Hayward MD, Crimmins EM. Does childhood health affect chronic morbidity in later life? Soc Sci Med. 2001;52:1269–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tennant PWG, Gibson GJ, Pearce MS. Lifecourse predictors of adult respiratory function: results from the Newcastle Thousand Families Study. Thorax. 2008;63:823–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Parkin DM. The global health burden of infection-associated cancers in the year 2002. Int J Cancer. 2006;118:3030–44.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bach J-F. The effect of infections on susceptibility to autoimmune and allergic diseases. NEJM. 2002;347:911–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hoption Cann SA, van Netten JP, van Netten C. Acute infections as a means of cancer prevention: opposing effects to chronic infections? Cancer Detect Prev. 2006;30:83–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pearl R. Cancer and tuberculosis. Am J Epidemiol. 1929;9:97.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Engel P. Über den Infektionsindex der Krebskranken. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1934;47:1118–9.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Engel P. Über den Einfluss des Alters auf den Infektionsindex der Krebskranken. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1935;48:112.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sinek F. Versuch einer statistischen Erfassung endogener Faktoren bei Carcinomkranken. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1936;44:492–527.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Abel U, Becker N, Angerer R, et al. Common infections in the history of cancer patients and controls. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1991;117:339–44.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Albonico HU, Bräker HU, Hüsler J. Febrile infectious childhood diseases in the history of cancer patients and matched control. Med Hypotheses. 1998;51:315–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hoffmann C, Rosenberger A, Tröger W, Bühring M. Kinderkrankheiten, Infektionskrankheiten und Fieber als potentielle Risikofaktoren für Krebserkrankungen? Forsch Komplementärmed. 2002;9:323–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kölmel KF, Gefeller O, Haferkamp B. Febrile infections and malignant melanoma: results of a case-control study. Melanoma Res. 1992;2:207–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    McDuffie HH, Pahwa P, McLaughlin JR, et al. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and specific pesticide exposures in men: cross-Canada study of pesticides and health. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001;10:1155–63.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wrotek S, Kamecki K, Kwiatkowski S, Kozak W. Cancer patients report a history of fewer fevers during infections than healthy controls. J Pre-Clin Clin Res. 2009;3:31–5.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Green J, Cairns BJ, Casabonne D, Wright FL, Reeves G, Beral V. Height and cancer incidence in the Million Women Study: prospective cohort, and meta-analysis of prospective studies of height and total cancer risk. Lancet Oncol. 2011;12:785–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pearce MS, Unwin NC, Parker L, Craft AW. Cohort profile: the Newcastle Thousand Families 1947 Birth Cohort. Int J Epidemiol. 2009;38:932–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Freeman JV, Cole TJ, Chinn S, Jones PR, White EM, Preece MA. Cross sectional stature and weight reference curves for the UK, 1990. Arch Dis Child. 1995;73:17–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kuh DJ, Cooper C. Physical activity at 36 years: patterns and childhood predictors in a longitudinal study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1992;46:114–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tu SM. Heterogeneity of cancer. origin of cancer: clinical perspectives and implications of a stem-cell theory of cancer. New York: Springer; 2010. p. 129–36.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Maynard M, Gunnell D, Emmett P, Frankel S, Davey Smith G. Fruit, vegetables, and antioxidants in childhood and risk of adult cancer: the Boyd Orr cohort. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003;57:218–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Strachan DP, Cook DG. Health effects of passive smoking. 1. Parental smoking and lower respiratory illness in infancy and early childhood. Thorax. 1997;52:905–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Boffetta P, Trédaniel J, Greco A. Risk of childhood cancer and adult lung cancer after childhood exposure to passive smoke: a meta-analysis. Environ Health Perspect. 2000;108:73–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Newhouse ML, Pearson RM, Fullerton JM, Boesen EA, Shannon HS. A case control study of carcinoma of the ovary. Br J Prevent Soc Med. 1977;31:148–53.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    West RO. Epidemiologic study of malignancies of the ovaries. Cancer. 1966;19:1001–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Schiffman MH, Hartge P, Lesher LP, McGowan L. Mumps and postmenopausal ovarian cancer. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1985;152:116.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Krone B, Kölmel KF, Henz BM, Grange JM. Protection against melanoma by vaccination with Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and/or vaccinia: an epidemiology-based hypothesis on the nature of a melanoma risk factor and its immunological control. Eur J Cancer. 2005;41:104–17.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cramer DW, Finn OJ. Epidemiologic perspective on immune-surveillance in cancer. Curr Opin Immunol. 2011;23:265–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sorahan T, Prior P, Lancashire RJ, et al. Childhood cancer and parental use of tobacco: deaths from 1971 to 1976. Br J Cancer. 1997;76:1525–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Simon MI, Strathmann MP, Gautam N. Diversity of G proteins in signal transduction. Science. 1991;252:802–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Mulholland EK, Griffiths UK, Biellik R. Measles in the 21st century. N Eng J Med. 2012;366:1755–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Guiso N, Liese J, Plotkin S. The Global Pertussis Initiative: meeting report from the fourth regional roundtable meeting, France, April 14–15, 2010. Hum Vaccin. 2011;7:481–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kmietowicz Z. Pertussis cases rise 10-fold among older children and adults in England and Wales. Br Med J. 2012;345:e5008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter W. G. Tennant
    • 1
  • Louise Parker
    • 2
  • Julian E. Thomas
    • 3
  • Sir Alan W. Craft
    • 4
    • 6
  • Mark S. Pearce
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Health & SocietyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Departments of Medicine and PediatricsPopulation Cancer Research ProgramHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, Sir James Spence InstituteRoyal Victoria InfirmaryNewcastle upon TyneUK
  4. 4.Northern Institute of Cancer ResearchNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  5. 5.Institute of Health & SocietyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  6. 6.Sir James Spence InstituteRoyal Victoria InfirmaryNewcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations