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Growth hormone cancer link disclosed.

A POSSIBLE link between treatment with natural human growth hormone and cancer has been disclosed by scientists.

The research suggests patients treated with growth hormone before the mid-1980s have an increased risk of dying from bowel cancer or Hodgkin's disease.

However, the investigators were cautious about the findings.

Professor Anthony Swerdlow, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said, ``Our data does not show conclusively whether cancer incidence is increased by growth hormone treatment, but they do suggest the need for increased awareness of the possibility of cancer risks, and for surveillance of growth hormone-treated patients.''

Human pituitary growth hormone was widely used to counteract short stature in children and young adults up to the mid-1980s.

Professor Swerdlow's team carried out a population study to investigate cancer incidence and death in 1,848 people in the UK who were treated with human pituitary growth hormone between 1959 and 1985.

The risk of cancer in the study group was compared with that of the general population.

Results published in the Lancet medical journal showed an overall three-fold increased risk of dying from cancer for growth hormone patients, while the risk of dying from bowel cancer or Hodgkin's disease was raised 11 times.

A joint statement from the Society for Endocrinology and the British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes said, ``Any increase in cancer rates is regrettable, and we sympathise with the affected patients and their families.

``This study looked at patients treated between 1959 and 1985, and there are differences between growth hormone replacement therapy in this period, and modern growth hormone therapy.''
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 26, 2002
Words:262
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