Health Team

Heart disease, prostate cancer may share risk factors

Posted February 10, 2012
Updated February 13, 2012

— A new study by Duke University researchers shows the risk factors of coronary artery disease – hypertension, obesity, inactivity, high cholesterol, smoking and Type 2 diabetes – may also raise a man's risk of prostate cancer.

Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Duke, has long promoted healthy lifestyle changes for preventing prostate cancer. Now research backs him up.

Freedland and other Duke researchers looked at the results of a large clinical trial testing the prostate drug dutastride. The FDA decided the drug's risks outweighed its benefits for preventing cancer, but the data revealed a surprise.

"What we found was that men who told us at baseline that they had heart disease, were 35 percent more likely to have cancer during the study," he said. The risk got greater over time.

The results suggest that heart disease and prostate cancer share similar causes, but specifically which ones is unknown. For now, a healthy lifestyle is a safe prescription.

"If we eat right and exercise, we can reduce the risk of some of these diseases," Freedland said.

Heart disease, prostate cancer might have common risk factors Heart disease, prostate cancer might have common risk factors

Norman Pope, a 13-year survivor of prostate cancer, thinks his active lifestyle may contribute to his on-going good health.

Since his diagnosis, Pope stays physically active and he adopted a healthier diet which helped him lose more than 10 pounds.

"Heart healthy is prostate healthy," Freedland said.

The Duke study is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.


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