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The Villages
Friday, February 23, 2024

All cancer patients should follow heart-attack-preventing lifestyles

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

A study of 937 patients suggests that all cancer patients should follow heart-attack preventing lifestyle changes including a heart-healthy diet such as the Mediterranean, MIND or DASH diets. The study found that having a history of cancer increases heart attack risk and that having heart-attack risk factors is associated with increased cancer risk (Medscape, January 25, 2024; presented at the American Heart Association Congress meeting in Philadelphia, November 2023). The patients were followed for an average of 45 months after they had heart surgery.
• Ten percent of those who had heart-attack events also developed a cancer, usually within two years of their heart attack.
• The rate of non-fatal and fatal heart attacks and strokes was 28.4 percent in those who had cancer and only 22.2 percent in those who did not develop cancer.
The authors recommend that cancer should be considered a new risk factor for predicting major cardiovascular events.

An earlier study showed that people who are at 20 percent increased risk for suffering a heart attack in 10 years are three times more likely to develop cancer in 10 years, and those who developed a heart attack, heart failure or atrial fibrillation are seven times more likely to develop a cancer in the same 10 years (Circulation, Nov 11, 2019;140:A12269). A 13-year follow-up study of people who have survived heart attacks showed that they are at significantly increased risk for developing cancers (Eur Heart J, Feb 14, 2020;40(48):3910-3912).

Both Heart Attacks and Cancers are Driven by Inflammation
An excellent review of studies on the subject shows that both heart attacks and many cancers can be caused by inflammation (Eur Heart J, 2019;40(48):3910-3912). The biggest advance in our knowledge of both heart attack prevention and cancer prevention was that drugs that reduce inflammation (such as statins) help to prevent both cancers and heart attacks (Lancet, August 27, 2017; J Clin Invest, 2019;129:2964–2979). See Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle to Treat Many Diseases.

My Recommendations
Note that my report on preventing dementia (above) recommends essentially the same lifestyle changes recommended for preventing heart attacks. I think that everyone should follow an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that includes:
• trying to exercise every day
• being physically active
• avoiding pro-inflammatory foods (red meat, processed meat, sugar-added foods, sugared drinks including fruit juices, fried foods)
• eating a wide variety of anti-inflammatory foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and other seeds)
• losing excess body fat, particularly in the belly
• keeping blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D above 30 ng/mL
• restricting or avoiding alcohol
• avoiding smoking and second-hand smoke
• avoiding chronic exposure to excess sunlight
• avoiding exposure to X rays and other sources of radiation, and various toxic substances such as insecticides, herbicides and industrial chemicals
• treating chronic infections anywhere in the body

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com

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