Survivors at risk for disease (archives)
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Shoah survivors more likely to develop cancer
Haifa University study finds Holocaust survivors who were younger during WWII are at higher risk of developing disease

Holocaust survivors have a greater chance of developing cancer, a new study by Haifa University has found.


Throughout the study, which was published in the National Cancer Institute's magazine in the US, researchers followed the progress of two groups of Israelis born in Europe after 1926.


One group, whose members immigrated to Israel before or during World War II, was defined as not having undergone the Holocaust. The other, whose members came to Israel after the Holocaust, was defined as a group of survivors.


All together 315,000 people participated in the study, of them 259,000 were considered Holocaust survivors.


The researchers compared the names of members in the two groups with the Health Ministry's national cancer patient roster and found that Holocaust survivors were overrepresented there when compared with the control group.


The data shows that male Holocaust survivors are 17% to 3.5 times more likely to develop cancer, and female survivors are 30% to 2.3 times more likely to do so.


Another of the study's conclusions is that the younger the survivors were during the war, the higher their chances to develop with the disease.


Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, one of the researchers who worked on the study, said of the results, "One of the assumptions is that the high percentage of disease has to do with the limited amount of calories allotted to the victims of the war, which may have caused hormonal and metabolic changes. It may also be related to post-traumatic stress."


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