Balance Disorder Increases Cancer, Cardiovascular Mortality Risks

A study found that balance, or the lack thereof, may be correlated with increased risks for cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality.

“Difficulty maintaining balance is common among individuals aged 40 years or older and increases the risk of falls. However, little is known about the association of balance function with long-term mortality outcomes in adults,” the study authors explained.

The researchers identified 5,816 adults (weighted population, 92,260,641) from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 1999 to 2004 who were aged ≥40 years and who filled out the Romberg Test of Standing Balance on Firm and Compliant Support Surfaces, which was used to meausre balance function and define balance disorder based on sensory input. Linked mortality from the test date through December 31, 2015, were evaluated.

The weighted mean age was 53.6 years, and 49.8% of participants were female. Participants were followed for up to 16.8 years (median, 12.5 years; 68,919 person-years), during which time 1,530 deaths occurred, with similar numbers associated with CVD (n=342) and cancer (n=364). Those with balance disorder had greater odds of CVD (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17-2.31), cancer (adjusted HR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.03-1.83), and all-cause mortality (adjusted HR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.23-1.69). similar correlations were observed for participants with vestibular balance disorder and increased odds for mortality from all causes (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.08-1.58), CVD (HR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.12-2.27), and cancer (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.04-1.86).

The study was published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

“In this nationally representative sample of US adults, balance disorder was associated with an increased risk of all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and evaluate whether the observed associations represent a causal biological phenomenon and, if so, whether the effect is modifiable with a multicomponent exercise program,” the study authors wrote in their conclusion.