How heart disease fuels cancer growth

If you’re going to die, the chances are very good you’re either going to die from heart disease or cancer.

How can I be so sure? Because according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these remain the top two disease-related causes of death.

Given that sobering statistic, you should do whatever you can to lower your odds of contracting these illnesses. One good way to double up your efforts is to focus on reducing risk factors for both diseases, such as smoking, diabetes and obesity.

But there’s another newly discovered risk factor you’ll want to know about that shows just how connected heart health and cancer are in the body…

Cellular “bubbles” promote cancer

An international team of researchers identified a mechanism that occurs after a heart attack that can lead to a higher risk of developing cancer.

They found that small extracellular “bubbles” the heart releases to heal itself enter the bloodstream, where they can promote the growth of cancer cells throughout the body.

According to Tal Caller, a medical and research student at Tel Aviv University, research revealed the small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) are secreted by all cells, but “Following an injury in the heart muscle and deterioration to heart failure, sEVs containing growth factors and small nucleic acid molecules that promote cell division are released.

“These sEVs contribute to the healing of the injured cardiac tissue. However, released from the injured heart, those vesicles move within the body’s circulatory system, eventually targeting cancerous growths.”

In other words, these small bubbles directly promote the growth of certain tumors.

When the researchers inhibited the formation of sEVs in animal models with heart disease, they found the risk of cancer decreased. However, they also found this inhibition caused severe undesired side effects.

“When you systemically inhibit the formation of sEVs, you get less cancer — but you cause collateral damage along the way,” says Jonathan Leor, a professor at Tel Aviv University and the Taman Institute at Sheba’s Leviev Center. “That is why we tried a different strategy: treat the patient’s heart to reduce the damage to the cardiac tissue so that it secretes fewer sEVs.”

Leor says the researchers used spironolactone, an established drug used to treat heart failure, to treat the animals at a very early stage of the disease. They found the heart secreted 30 percent fewer sEVs, and the cancerous tumors grew more slowly as a result.

“Our experiment shows that it is possible to intervene in heart disease in a way that reduces the risk of cancer among heart patients,” he adds.

Attack your heart disease risk to lower your cancer risk

“It may be necessary to adjust the existing treatments for the heart so that they also consider the risk of cancer,” Caller says. “In addition, it is possible to find biomarkers among heart patients that will indicate an increased risk of cancer since not all patients are at an increased risk. This is basic research, and much work is still required to unravel the connection between the two.”

The American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8TM provides great advice on lifestyle factors that can decrease your risk of heart disease. It makes sense to start there, but don’t stop there…

I can’t express the importance of a diet rich in polyphenols — particularly a subgroup known as flavonoids.

One study which followed over 53,000 Danes for over 23 years, found that people who habitually consumed moderate to high amounts of flavonoid-rich foods were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

Those with the lowest risks consumed about 500 mg of flavonoids daily from a variety of sources, including one cup of tea, one apple, one orange, 100g of blueberries, and 100g of broccoli.

The researchers claimed the protective effect of flavonoids is so strong, it can even provide a level of protection for people at higher risk for chronic diseases due to risky behavior — meaning unhealthy lifestyle habits, like smoking and drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day.

That doesn’t mean you get a pass for bad habits. It’s just a testament to the power of the right foods.

If you’d like to know your risks right now for heart disease and cancer, find out what an echocardiogram — or this comparable at-home test — can tell you.

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!


Study reveals mechanism linking heart disease to cancer development — EurekAlert!

Small Extracellular Vesicles From Infarcted and Failing Heart Accelerate Tumor Growth — Circulation

Deaths: Leading Causes for 2020 — National Vital Statistics Reports

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent a Heart Attack — American Heart Association

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.