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Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Linked to Brain Cancer Risk

BETHESDA, Maryland — In a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open on February 15th, 2024, researchers have found a significant correlation between moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and an increased risk of brain cancer. The study focused on military service members and has far-reaching implications beyond the armed forces.

Traumatic brain injury is a prevalent issue, both in military and civilian populations. However, the study, led by Dr. Ian Stewart, an Air Force colonel and professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, reveals alarming findings regarding the heightened risk of brain cancer following moderate to severe TBIs.

The research analyzed health data from over 1.9 million veterans, delving into the association between traumatic brain injuries and subsequent development of brain cancer. It was discovered that service members who had experienced moderate or severe brain injuries faced a staggering 90% increased risk of developing malignant brain cancer compared to their counterparts without such injuries.

Even more concerning was the revelation regarding penetrating traumatic brain injuries, where an object breaches the skull and enters the brain. This type of injury was found to be associated with a tripled risk of brain cancer, underscoring the severity of the consequences.

Dr. Stewart emphasized the broader implications of these findings, suggesting that while the study focused on military personnel, civilians with similar brain injuries might face comparable risks. He highlighted the ubiquity of traumatic brain injuries in society and urged further investigation into their potential long-term health impacts.

The research relied on extensive data collected by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, tracking service members over an average of more than seven years. This comprehensive approach allowed for a thorough examination of the relationship between traumatic brain injuries and brain cancer risk.

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