Higher Body Fat In Girls Treated For Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Girls who were previously treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia have higher body fat than both girls treated for other malignancies and healthy controls. This difference in body fat was not observed in boys.

Obesity as defined from indices of height and weight has been previously observed in long-term survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It has been suggested that higher body fat in these patients is a consequence of cranial irradiation.

Investigators from multiple institutions including the Department of Paediatrics at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England, measured body composition in 35 long-term survivors of acute lymphblastic leukemia. Measurements were made by skinfolds and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and compared to results in 21 children treated for other malignancies and 31 healthy sibling controls.

Results of skinfold measurements showed that girls who had received cranial irradiation for acute lymphoblastic leukemia had body fat of 37.4 percent while body fat percentage was 24.6 percent in girls treated for other malignancies and 28.8 percent in healthy sibling controls.

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry also showed that girls treated for acute lymphblastic leukemia had higher body fat than the other two groups, but body fat percentages determined by this method were less than those measured by skinfold by an average 2.4 percent, indicating a possible risk of overestimating fat mass depending on the measurement methods used.

No significant differences in body fat were observed in boys treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia compared with those treated for other malignancies or with healthy controls.

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