Researchers Find Link Between Cellular Aging, Epigenetic Changes in Cancer Patients

June 30, 2021 13:08:47

A recent study found that some anti-cancer treatments may speed up cellular aging, where changes in a patient’s DNA may contribute to more fatigue and inflammation. The study’s discoveries were reported in the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal “CANCER.”

When epigenetic changes occur or an individual’s DNA is physically modified, the process also can alter gene activity. It should be noted that these changes do not involve adjusting the underlying DNA sequence. Some people may experience epigenetic age acceleration (“EAA”), which increases their risk of age-related conditions, in comparison with other people of the same chronological age.

Recently, researchers looked into the changes brought about by epigenetic age acceleration during and after patients underwent cancer therapy. The researchers also examined possible links between the fatigue observed in patients suffering from head and neck cancer and these epigenetic changes.

For their study, the researchers recruited 133 patients suffering from head and neck cancers (“HNC”), noting that nearly half of the participants experienced serious fatigue at some point during their treatment. The researchers found that epigenetic age acceleration was noticeable immediately after patients went through radiation therapy, noting that the average epigenetic age increased by 4.9 years.

The researchers explained that increased epigenetic age acceleration was linked to elevated fatigue, observing that patients who experienced serious fatigue had 3.1 years more epigenetic age acceleration compared with patients who suffered from low fatigue. Additionally, patients who had higher levels of inflammation had roughly five years more epigenetic age acceleration; the report observed that inflammation made up the majority of the effects of epigenetic age acceleration on fatigue.

The study’s lead author, Canhua Xiao from the School of Nursing at Emory University, explained that the team’s discoveries added to the growing evidence, which proposes that exposing patients who suffered from head and neck cancers to toxicity over an extended period of time and the increased mortality sustained from anti-cancer therapies could be associated with increased epigenetic age acceleration and its link to inflammation.  Xiao noted that future studies should delve into the vulnerabilities that may further explain the inflammation, fatigue and high epigenetic age acceleration observed in patients.

In their report, the researchers also noted that interventions to decrease inflammation, which included decelerating the aging process before undergoing cancer therapy, could be beneficial to patients and help decrease the risks of age-related chronic health problems. An editorial that accompanied the report asserted that the chronic fatigue observed in patients who are undergoing therapy for cancer may play a crucial role in their health.

Such observations make a strong case for personalized cancer care as championed by companies such as Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) since this approach minimizes the adverse effects that a patient would be at risk of.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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