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Why The Risk Factors For Cancer And Heart Disease Are The Same?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sandeep Nayak 88% (44 ratings)
MBBS, DNB Gen Surgery, DNB Surgical Oncology
Oncologist, Bangalore  •  22 years experience
Why The Risk Factors For Cancer And Heart Disease Are The Same?

Cardiovascular disease or heart disease along with cancer is two of the leading causes of death around the world. Both these diseases are generally thought of as two distinct diseases with separate causes, however, recent studies show that cancer and cardiovascular disease have an increasing number of similarities, potential interaction, and similar risk factors.

The intersection of these diseases, as recent studies have shown, is a cause for great concern as cancer survivors are now at a risk of developing a heart disease. On medical introspection, here are the similar risk factors:



  1. Diabetes and the risk of cancer and heart disease- Diabetes mellitus commonly referred to as Diabetes affects a varying number of our body systems. Although curable, Diabetes, especially type-2 diabetes significantly contribute to heart diseases by virtue of hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and lack of physical activity. Furthermore, it is suggested that in type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance usually produces more insulin than what is necessary and that the higher-level of insulin circulation can potentially aid the growth of cancerous tumors.
  2. Obesity as a risk factor- Obesity, cancer, and heart diseases share an intricate and complex relationship augmented by factors like diet, the presence of certain hormones, body fat distribution, among other factors. The World Cancer Research Fund in its report stated there is indisputable evidence connecting obesity to kidney, pancreatic, liver, and pharynx types of cancer. The carcinogenic effect increases when an individual’s Body Mass Index or BMI increases. Furthermore, the Framingham Heart Study showed that obesity and heart diseases are increasingly interconnected. This interconnection is expounded by the risk factors found in obese individuals which include atherogenic dyslipidemia, proinflammatory state, and rising insulin resistance.
  3. Consumption of Tobacco- Cigarette smoking is perhaps the most preventable cause of premature death in India. Cigarette smokers have a higher incidence of developing chronic disorders ranging from several pulmonary diseases, atherosclerosis or fatty particles in the arteries and types of cancer. Smoking increases our blood pressure and the tendency for blood to clot. Furthermore, it increases the recurrent risk of cardiovascular disease after a bypass surgery and decreases HDL or good cholesterol. Additionally, if you are from a family with a history of heart diseases then smoking increases your chances of having a coronary heart disease.

Thus, in conclusion, it can be stated that the risk factors of both cancer and heart diseases are interlinked and preventive action measures including not consuming alcohol, smoking and lowering your BMI can reduce your chances of having cancer or a heart disease. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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