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Day Care May Cut Leukemia Risk

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Kids in day care may have a lower risk of developing childhood leukemia, a blood cancer.

A new study provides further support that social activity with other children during the first few months of life protects against later risk of leukemia, say C. Gilham and colleagues.

What's the apparent link between day care and leukemia risk? It's thought to be infections, say the researchers.

The idea that infections are behind the cause of childhood leukemia dates back to the 1940s.

Leukemia is cancer of white blood cells, immune system cells that fight off infection. In leukemia the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that do not work normally. As the number of abnormal cells grows, they crowd out other blood cells, including normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This overcrowding is what leads to symptoms, such as fatigue and bleeding, and can lead to death.

Cancer Success Story

Survival from leukemia varies widely depending on the type. Most children with leukemia have ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia).

The improvement in survival for children with ALL over the past 35 years is one of the great success stories of cancer treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute. Today, about 85 percent of children with ALL live five years or more. Five years is considered the cutoff by cancer experts that indicates likely long-term survival after cancer.