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Impact of parental cancer on IQ, stress resilience, and physical fitness in young men

Authors Chen R, Fall K, Czene K, Kennedy B, Valdimarsdóttir U, Fang F

Received 3 October 2017

Accepted for publication 16 February 2018

Published 24 May 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 593—604


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen

Ruoqing Chen,1 Katja Fall,1,2 Kamila Czene,1 Beatrice Kennedy,2 Unnur Valdimarsdóttir,1,3,4 Fang Fang1

1Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; 2Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden; 3Centre of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland; 4Department of Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

Background: A parental cancer diagnosis is a stressful life event, potentially leading to increased risks of mental and physical problems among children. This study aimed to investigate the associations of parental cancer with IQ, stress resilience, and physical fitness of the affected men during early adulthood.
Materials and methods: In this Swedish population-based study, we included 465,249 men born during 1973–1983 who underwent the military conscription examination around the age of 18 years. We identified cancer diagnoses among the parents of these men from the Cancer Register. IQ, stress resilience, and physical fitness of the men were assessed at the time of conscription and categorized into three levels: low, moderate, and high (reference category). We used multinomial logistic regression to assess the studied associations.
Results: Overall, parental cancer was associated with higher risks of low stress resilience (relative risk ratio [RRR]: 1.09 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04–1.15]) and low physical fitness (RRR: 1.12 [95% CI 1.05–1.19]). Stronger associations were observed for parental cancer with a poor expected prognosis (low stress resilience: RRR: 1.59 [95% CI 1.31–1.94]; low physical fitness: RRR: 1.45 [95% CI 1.14–1.85]) and for parental death after cancer diagnosis (low stress resilience: RRR: 1.29 [95% CI 1.16–1.43]; low physical fitness: RRR: 1.40 [95% CI 1.23–1.59]). Although there was no overall association between parental cancer and IQ, parental death after cancer diagnosis was associated with a higher risk of low IQ (RRR: 1.11 [95% CI 1.01–1.24]).
Conclusion: Parental cancer, particularly severe and fatal type, is associated with higher risks of low stress resilience and low physical fitness among men during early adulthood. Men who experienced parental death after cancer diagnosis also have a higher risk of low IQ.

Keywords: child of impaired parents, cancer, intelligence, resilience, physical fitness

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