Cancer risk elevated among sufferers of worst Holocaust persecution


People who experienced the full horror of the Holocaust had an increased risk of developing cancer, according to a new Israeli study. 

Cancer specialists at the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre at Tel Aviv University reviewed medical records of more than 150,000 Holocaust survivors from 1960 to 2006. They conducted a comparison between individuals who were deemed to be entitled to compensation for their treatment during the War and those who were not. The latter category was mostly made up of those who had been caught up in the Holocaust but had not been incarcerated in a ghetto or concentration camp. 

The study, released last month, found that survivors in the former group had a significantly higher chance (22 percent) of developing cancer than those in the latter group (16 percent). However, the difference between the two groups became much more significant when specific types of cancer were considered.  

Survivors granted compensation, i.e., those in the first study group, had a 37 percent higher risk of lung cancer and a 12 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer than those denied compensation.

The research also showed that survivors born in countries occupied by the Nazis had a higher chance of getting lung or colorectal cancer (12 percent and eight percent) than survivors who had been born elsewhere. 

Dr Electra Paskett, a cancer epidemiologist at Ohio State University, told Reuters: “This study brings to light again that outside forces can cause cancer. Stress really does get under your skin to cause disease”.

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