Trade-offs between cancer and other diseases: do they exist and influence longevity?


Relationships between aging, disease risks, and longevity are not yet well understood. For example, joint increases in cancer risk and total survival observed in many human populations and some experimental aging studies may be linked to a trade-off between cancer and aging as well as to the trade-off(s) between cancer and other diseases, and their relative impact is not clear. While the former trade-off (between cancer and aging) received broad attention in aging research, the latter one lacks respective studies, although its understanding is important for developing optimal strategies of increasing both longevity and healthy life span. In this paper, we explore the possibility of trade-offs between risks of cancer and selected major disorders. First, we review current literature suggesting that the trade-offs between cancer and other diseases may exist and be linked to the differential intensity of apoptosis. Then we select relevant disorders for the analysis (acute coronary heart disease [ACHD], stroke, asthma, and Alzheimer disease [AD]) and calculate the risk of cancer among individuals with each of these disorders, and vice versa, using the Framingham Study (5209 individuals) and the National Long Term Care Survey (NLTCS) (38,214 individuals) data. We found a reduction in cancer risk among old (80+) men with stroke and in risk of ACHD among men (50+) with cancer in the Framingham Study. We also found an increase in ACHD and stroke among individuals with cancer, and a reduction in cancer risk among women with AD in the NLTCS. The manifestation of trade-offs between risks of cancer and other diseases thus depended on sex, age, and study population. We discuss factors modulating the potential trade-offs between major disorders in populations, e.g., disease treatments. Further study is needed to clarify possible impact of such trade-offs on longevity.


Journal article





Adult, Disease, Female, Humans, Longevity, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasms


Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Ukraintseva, Svetlana V, Konstantin G Arbeev, Igor Akushevich, Alexander Kulminski, Liubov Arbeeva, Irina Culminskaya, Lucy Akushevich, Anatoli I Yashin, et al. (2010). Trade-offs between cancer and other diseases: do they exist and influence longevity?. Rejuvenation Res, 13(4). pp. 387–396. 10.1089/rej.2009.0941 Retrieved from

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Svetlana Ukraintseva

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Dr. Ukraintseva studies causes of human aging and related decline in resilience, to identify genetic and other factors responsible for the increase in mortality risk with age eventually limiting longevity. She explores complex relationships, including trade-offs, between physiological aging-changes and risks of major diseases (with emphasis on Alzheimer’s and cancer), as well as survival, to find new genetic and other targets for anti-aging interventions and disease prevention. She also investigates possibilities of repurposing of existing vaccines and treatments for AD prevention and interventions into the aging. For this, Dr. Ukraintseva and her team use data from several large human studies containing rich genetic and phenotypic information (including longitudinal measurements) on thousands of individuals. Dr. Ukraintseva is a PI and Key Investigator on several NIH funded grants, and has more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, including in major journals such as Nature Reviews, Stroke, European Journal of Human Genetics, and some other.


Konstantin Arbeev

Associate Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Konstantin G. Arbeev received the M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Moscow State University (branch in Ulyanovsk, Russia) in 1995 and the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics and Physics (specialization in Theoretical Foundations of Mathematical Modeling, Numerical Methods and Programming) from Ulyanovsk State University (Russia) in 1999. He was a post-doctoral fellow in Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany) before moving to Duke University in 2004 to work as a Research Scientist and a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Sociology and the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).  He is currently an Associate Research Professor in SSRI. Dr. Arbeev's major research interests are related to three interconnected fields of biodemography, biostatistics and genetic epidemiology as pertains to research on aging. The focus of his research is on discovering genetic and non-genetic factors that can affect the process of aging and determine longevity and healthy lifespan. He is interested in both methodological advances in this research area as well as their practical applications to analyses of large-scale longitudinal studies with phenotypic, genetic and, recently, genomic information. Dr. Arbeev authored and co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications in these areas.

Igor Akushevich

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Alexander Kulminski

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Irina Kulminskaya

Research Scientist, Senior

Anatoli I. Yashin

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

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