PHILADELPHIA — The presence of key cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors may be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, according to a study presented at the 2019 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, held November 16-18, 2019, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.1

Researchers prospectively followed participants of the Framingham Heart Study who, at baseline, were free of both CVD and cancer. The aim of the study was to determine the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors, 10-year atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk score, cardiovascular biomarkers, and incident cancer.

Data were obtained for 12,712 participants (mean age, 51; 55% women). Within this group, 1670 cases of incident cancer were recorded over a median follow up of 14.6 years (19% gastrointestinal, 18% breast, 16% prostate, and 11% lung). Risk factors, including age, sex, hypertension, and smoking status, were found to be independently associated with cancer (P <.05 for all).

In addition, the estimated 10-year ASCVD score was also found to predict the occurrence of cancer (3.3-fold increased risk in patients with high vs low ASVCD; hazard ratio, 3.53; 95% CI, 2.84-3.94; P <.0001).

Brain natriuretic peptide, but not highly sensitive troponin I, was also found to be associated with incident cancer, as was the development of interim cardiovascular events. These events, including myocardial infarction, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation, were associated with a >7-fold risk for subsequent cancer.

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“Heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death in the United States,” said lead researcher Emily Lau, MD, a cardiology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.2 “We now recognize that they are intimately linked. This tells us that we, as physicians, should be aggressive in trying to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, not only to prevent heart disease, but also to consider cancer risk at the same time.”

References

  1. Lau E, Paniagua SM, Liu E, et al. The association of cardiovascular disease and future cancer. Presented at: 2019 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; November 16-18, 2019; Philadelphia, PA. Abstract Mo3058.
  2. Heart disease and cancer risk may be linked [news release]. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. Available at: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/heart-disease-and-cancer-risk-may-be-linked. Accessed November 13, 2019.