According to research published in JACC: CardioOncology, maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle may pay off in lower risk for developing cancer.
The research, done by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and other centers in the United States and the Netherlands, looked at the potential link between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer among participants in two large population-based health studies.
They found that traditional risk factors for CVD, including older age, male sex, and current or former smoking were all independently associated with increased risk of the development of cancer.
They also found increased levels of natriuretic peptides—markers of stress on the heart—also predicted higher cancer risk among study participants.
Although participants who already had a history of heart disease before the study or experienced a cardiovascular event such as heart attack or heart failure after joining the study were not found to be at increased risk of developing cancers, those who had ideal cardiovascular health at study entry had lower risk of future cancers, revealed the study.
“We found an association between a heart-healthy lifestyle and a lower risk of cancer, and the opposite is true: that a less heart-healthy lifestyle is also associated with higher risk of cancer, but we can’t prove that there is causation in this epidemiologic study,” says Lau.
Lau and colleagues evaluated data from 20,305 participants in two large community-based, long-term health studies: the Framingham Heart Study and the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease (PREVEND) study. The participants were free of cancer at study entry.
The researchers found that traditional CVD risk factors such as age, sex, and smoking status were each associated with cancer. In addition, each 5% increase in the estimated 10-year ASCVD risk score was associated with a 16% increase in risk for cancer, and participants who were in the highest third of natriuretic peptide levels had a 40% greater risk of developing cancer than those in the lowest third.