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Cancer and Heart Disease

Posted 2/10/2016

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  Be forewarned: this is another fairly depressing entry. Aren't we lucky to possibly be included in both groups of "major causes of death for Americans": cancer and heart disease? (note the heavy sarcasm there) A new study reinforces the growing concern that some cancer survivors face an increased risk of heart disease due to their cancer treatments.

  Traditionally the worry has been about survivors of childhood cancers, but the attention has now turned to adults who have been treated for cancers. As always, the good news is that more of us are surviving the cancer, but may go on to develop other problems. The cardiac damage can be from radiation or from chemotherapy and is more likely with certain kinds of treatments.

  Here is the beginning of an article from Reuters:

Many cancer survivors face increased risk of heart disease
(Reuters Health) - Many adult cancer survivors face an increased risk of heart disease, worsening their
long-term survival odds beyond the effect of tumors alone, a U.S. study suggests.
In a study of about 110,000 people, survivors of certain cancers – including tumors in the lung, ovaries,
bone marrow and lymph system – had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease than
individuals with no history of malignancies, the study found.
Among the 36,000 cancer survivors in the study, just 60 percent of the those who developed
cardiovascular disease survived after eight years, compared with 81 percent of cancer patients without
heart problems.
“The findings from the current study speak to the growing long-term morbidity associated with
cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors, and to the critical importance of strategies to improve
cardiovascular health in at-risk survivors long after completion of cancer therapy,” said lead study author Dr. Saro Armenian of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California.

Previous research has linked cancer chemotherapies known as anthracyclines to weakening of the heart
muscle. Research has also tied some radiation therapy to cardiac rhythm disorders and structural damage
in arteries and heart valves.
While much of this research has focused on childhood cancer survivors, the current findings reinforce that
these risks apply to adults, too, and also suggest that millions of aging cancer survivors need to pay closer attention.

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