A study of 4,519,243 Canadian adults followed for 12 years found 224,016 cases of new cancers, and the people with newly diagnosed cancers were at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, lung clots, or death from heart disease (J Am Coll Cardiol CardioOnc, Mar 2022;4(1):85–94). Patients with new cancers of the kidney, urinary tract, stomach, intestines, chest, nervous system or blood were at the highest risk for heart disease.
Advances in early diagnosis and treatment of cancer over the last twenty years have prolonged the lives of people who suffer from cancers. Since some of the risk factors for cancers are the same as for heart disease, this prolongation of lives from deaths from cancer has resulted in increased risk for dying from heart disease. Cancer and heart disease have many common risk factors such as smoking, lower socioeconomic status, and obesity (Circulation, 2018;137:e30-e66). Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy are also associated with increased heart disease risk. Other studies have found the same increased risk for heart disease among cancer survivors (Eur Heart J 2019;40:3889-3897). People who have multiple risk factors for heart disease also are at high risk for developing cancers in the future (J Am Coll Cardiol CardioOnc, Mar 2021;3(1):48–58).
Risk Factors Shared by Heart Disease and Cancers
Risk factors for a heart attack that are also risk factors for many cancers (American Heart Association scientific sessions, poster #Mo3058, November 16, 2019) include:
• not exercising
• not eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds
• eating pro-inflammatory foods, such as mammal meat, processed meats, fried foods, sugar added foods and drinking anything with sugar in it including fruit juices
• taking more than two alcoholic drinks a day, or any binge drinking
• storing excess fat in the belly
• having high blood pressure (systolic greater than 120 at bedtime)
• being diabetic
• having high LDL cholesterol
The lifestyle factors listed here determine to a large degree whether you go on to develop cancers or a heart attack. The younger you are when ylou start a healthful lifestyle, the lower your risk.