New research has found that a heart-healthy lifestyle will not only lower your risk of heart disease, but may also lower your chances of developing cancer.
The results suggest that the risk factors that cause cardiovascular disease could also lead to cancer.
Healthy habits used to fight heart disease could also help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
New research suggests that following a heart-healthy lifestyle may reduce the risk of heart disease and may also lower the chances of developing cancer.
The study, published in the March 2021 issue of JACC: CardioOncology, found that the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) – including traditional risk factors such as age, sex and smoking, as well as levels of natriuretic peptides – is associated with an increased risk of cancer.
The results suggest that the risk factors that cause cardiovascular disease could also lead to cancer. Therefore, the healthy habits used to fight cardiovascular disease could also help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
“Healthy eating and the control of other medical conditions, like hypertension and diabetes, are important for many reasons, and it turns out that cancer risk is one of them,” says Dr. Collin Vu, medical oncologist and hematologist at MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
Heart-healthy lifestyles also reduce cancer risk
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and other centers in the United States and the Netherlands evaluated the health data of 20,305 people who did not have cancer when they entered the study.
In 15 years, 2,548 people have developed cancer. The researchers found that traditional CVD risk factors – age, gender, and smoking – were independently associated with cancer.
They also found that higher levels of natriuretic peptides – markers that indicate stress on the heart – also predicted higher cancer risks.
Study participants with the most natriuretic peptides had a 40% greater chance of developing cancer.
Participants who adhered to heart-healthy lifestyles – managing blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight and diet – had a lower risk of developing cancer.
“This seems to say that heart disease by itself does not contribute to the development of cancer, but that the same risks or behaviors that make a person more likely to have heart disease are also more likely to cause cancer,” says Seen.
“The link between cardiovascular disease and cancer may not really be a direct one, but we may have traits or behaviors that seem to lead to both at the same time,” Vu added.
Manage a healthy lifestyle
The study found that people with cardiovascular disease tend to have worse outcomes with cancer.
People with cardiovascular disease may have trouble sleeping or lead sedentary lives, which puts them at increased risk of developing cancer, Oen-Hsiao explains.
Oen-Hsiao recommends eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep to deal with the stressors in your life.
If someone smokes, quitting might be the most heart-healthy change they can make to lower their risk of cancer, according to Vu.
Vu says our behaviors today can make a difference for us later in life.
“By following a heart-healthy lifestyle to reduce our risk of heart disease, we will also have the added benefit of reducing risk factors for cancer development,” Vu said.