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Heart disease may be risk factor for prostate cancer

Heart disease may be risk factor for prostate cancer Conditions may have shared causes

Scientists have discovered a correlation between coronary heart disease and prostate cancer, which suggests the two conditions may have shared causes.

If further research were to confirm that heart disease is a risk factor for prostate cancer, risk of developing the latter may be controlled through weight loss, exercise and a health diet, which may prevent heart disease.

Lead author Dr Jean-Alfred Thomas II, a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Urology at Duke University, said: "What's good for the heart may be good for the prostate."

Coronary artery disease is the biggest killer in the United States, while prostate cancer is the second most lethal cancer in US men.

Previous studies looking at the relationship between coronary artery disease and prostate cancer were inconclusive.

The study looked at 6,390 men enrolled in the trial of drug that aims to lower prostate cancer risk. Of these, 547 had a prior history of coronary heart disease, and were mainly older, heavier and less healthy, with more diabetes, higher cholesterol and hypertension. These men were more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Having coronary artery disease increased the men's risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent, with the risk rising over time. The group was 24 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer within the first two years of the study than men who reported no heart disease, and by four years into the study, this group's prostate cancer risk was 74 percent higher.

"We controlled for a number of risk factors, including hypertension, taking statins or aspirin," Dr Thomas said.

"We don't have a good grasp on what's causing the link, but we are observing this association."

Dr Stephen Freedland, a co-author of paper, said the study relied on data from a previous trial that didn't account for factors such as diet, physical activity and severity of heart disease that may have influenced the results.

However, he said the study eliminated a screening bias common in previous findings that correlated prostate cancer and heart disease using men with high PSA levels.

The study appears online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

This article was published on Wed 8 February 2012

Image © Knut Ekanger -

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