Caring for your heart lowers your cancer risk

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Every 36 seconds, someone in the United States dies of heart disease. And the second biggest killer? Cancer, of course.

We know a lot about how to prevent heart disease through diet and lifestyle changes. Cancer, though, is still largely a mystery to us.

But what if you could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak? What if you could adopt lifestyle changes that not only would prevent heart disease but would protect you from getting cancer in the future?

Recent research says that you can do just that.

Low risk for heart disease points to lower cancer risk

Two researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that following a heart-healthy lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of cancer — and that doing the opposite is associated with a higher risk for both heart disease and cancer.

“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 Dr. Emily Lau.

Both Dr. Lau and Dr. Jennifer Ho are from the Division of Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Their study evaluated data from 20,305 participants in the Framingham Heart Study and the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease (PREVEND) Study.

Cardiovascular risk was determined in several ways.

First, a ten-year atherosclerotic (ASCVD) risk score was calculated for each participant. The ASCVD Risk Estimator was developed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. 

The research team also looked for levels of natriuretic peptides. These strings of amino acids are markers of stress on the heart.

The results?           

Each 5 percent increase in the estimated 10-year ASCVD risk score was associated with a 16 percent increase in risk for cancer.

People with the highest third of natriuretic peptide levels had a 40 percent greater risk of developing cancer than those in the lowest third.

Prevent more than just cancer

Dr. Lau and Dr. Ho also found that those people who had already been following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple Seven (LS7) protocol when they entered the study had the lowest risk of future cancers.

The LS7 assessment is based on an individual’s status in seven areas:

  • not smoking
  • regular physical activity
  • healthy diet
  • maintaining a normal weight
  • controlling cholesterol
  • controlling blood pressure
  • controlling blood glucose levels

These recommendations probably don’t surprise you. But you may be surprised to learn that, by following them, you can lower your odds of having eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.

Wondering how to get started on a healthier lifestyle that will save you from these two major killers? Your diet is always a good place to begin.

Here are the fruits and vegetables that do your heart the most good.

Here you’ll find Dr. Mark Wiley’s 20 best foods for a strong heart.

And here, Virginia Tims-Lawson gives you the scoop on the latest improvements to the already heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


Cardiovascular Risk Factors Are Associated With Future Cancer — American College of Cardiology journals

Double benefits for heart-healthy lifestyle — The Harvard Gazette

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.