By Dennis Thompson
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Here’s some worrisome news for folks who manage to survive a heart attack: New research suggests they might be far more vulnerable to developing cancer down the road.
People who suffered a heart health scare — a heart attack, heart failure or a dangerously erratic heart rhythm — had a more than sevenfold increased risk for subsequently developing cancer, compared to those with healthy tickers, researchers said.
“We found that folks with certain risk factors for heart disease had an increased risk of cancer and, more intriguingly, we found up that individuals who ended up developing heart disease had a significantly increased risk of future cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Emily Lau, a cardiology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
People starting out with risk factors that gave them a 20% risk of heart disease over the next decade were more than three times as likely as those with a lower risk to develop any type of cancer, researchers found.
Heart disease and cancer share many risk factors, so it’s very likely that folks who develop one would then suffer from the other, said Lau and Dr. Nicholas Rohs, an assistant professor of medical oncology at the Blavatnik Family-Chelsea Medical Center at Mount Sinai in New York City.
“All of these stressors are things that can lead to cancer,” Rohs said. “The cells are stressed and they end up misbehaving because of that.”
“Trying to prevent the development of your first cardiovascular event is extremely important,” Lau said. “Not only should you be trying to do all of the things we know to be heart–healthy, now we’re showing that being aggressive about modifying those risk factors may also impact your future cancer risk.”
The findings are to be presented Monday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Philadelphia.
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SOURCES: Emily Lau, M.D., cardiology fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Nicholas Rohs, M.D., assistant professor, medical oncology, Blavatnik Family-Chelsea Medical Center at Mount Sinai, New York City; Nov. 18, 2019, presentation, American Heart Association annual meeting, Philadelphia