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Cancer Caregivers Show Excessive Inflammation

Last Updated: May 13, 2009.

Caregivers of patients with brain cancer show increased inflammation in the year after diagnosis that could put them at risk of developing conditions involving excessive inflammation, according to a study published online May 11 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

WEDNESDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Caregivers of patients with brain cancer show increased inflammation in the year after diagnosis that could put them at risk of developing conditions involving excessive inflammation, according to a study published online May 11 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Nicolas Rohleder, Ph.D., from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and colleagues tracked changes in neurohormonal and inflammatory processes in 18 caregivers of patients with brain cancer and 19 controls during the year after diagnosis.

The researchers found that only caregivers showed marked changes in diurnal secretions of salivary amylase, a marker of sympathetic nervous system activity. Caregivers also showed strong linear increases in systemic inflammation, as determined by C-reactive protein; a linear decrease in the expression of anti-inflammatory signaling molecules; and reduced in vitro sensitivity to glucocorticoids. The two groups had similar output of cortisol, according to the study.

The study "has important implications for the mental and physical well-being of caregivers of patients with cancer, as it demonstrates increasing inflammation and dysregulation of inflammatory control over time," Susan K. Lutgendorf, Ph.D., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and Mark L. Laudenslager, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine in Aurora, write in an accompanying editorial. "As inflammatory processes are involved in etiology of a variety of conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, caregivers may be at increased risk for health concerns over time."

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