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Holocaust survivors are more likely to get cancer and die from it, according to a large Israeli study. The researchers suspect that the cancers are most likely caused by the near-starvation of European Jews during the Second World War.

Nani Vine Raviv and his colleagues at the University of Haifa, Israel, looked at the incidence and death rate from cancer in around four million Israelis of European origin – comparing those who emigrated from Europe before 1939 with those who arrived in Israel after the war ended in 1945.

Those who had been in Europe during the Holocaust were more than twice as likely to suffer cancer later in life, and up to 13% less likely to survive the disease.

Some cancers were particularly common among Holocaust survivors, they found. For example, cancer of the large intestine was nine times as likely to afflict male survivors