Heart Attack May Increase Cancer Risk

There is a higher risk of certain types of cancer in patients who survive myocardial infarction, according to researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark.

There is a higher risk of certain types of cancer in patients who survive myocardial infarction (MI) according to researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Though it is well known that certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation pose a risk to the heart, Morten Winther Malmborg and collegues at Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen found that post MI, patients may be at a higher risk for cancer in general, and for lung and bladder cancer in particular.

The team looked at the records of about 125,000 patients in the Danish National Patient Registry who had survived a first MI and had no history of cancer.

They found the cancer incidences was nearly double in these patients than peers who had not had a heart attack. The rate for the MI group was 169 cancers per 100,000 population versus 95 cancers per 100,000 in the background population.

Statistically, the cancer risk was greatest in the first 6 months following the MI, but the team said that was likely due to increased health monitoring in that period. But even after 6 months these MI patients showed a 10% higher risk of getting a cancer diagnosis.

Malmborg, a research fellow, suggests that there may be shared risk factors that could lea to both cardiac disease and some cancers, such as smoking, alcohol use, obesity, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating.

The study was presented Saturday, March 14 at the American College of Cardiology meeting in San Diego, CA.