Heart Disease a Risk Factor for Prostate Cancer

Heart Disease a RiskCoronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, while stroke is the leading cause of disability.

Approximately one million Americans have a heart attack every year, and 400,000 of them die as a result of it.

Interestingly, more heart attacks occur between 4:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. because higher blood levels of adrenaline are released from our adrenal glands during the morning hours.

When you are having a heart attack, your heart muscle dies and your heart muscle loss is permanent unless blood flow can be promptly restored, usually within one to six hours.

According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, part of your brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and it starts to die. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in North America

What Causes Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease, also referred to as “hardening of the arteries,” is caused by the build up of fatty material and other substances, such as cholesterol, on the walls of your coronary arteries causing them to narrow. This build-up can slow down or stop the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart. If your heart doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen, you could have a heart attack.

Too much bad cholesterol (LDL) is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Sadly, the risk of heart disease increases with age, and you are also at risk if you are genetically predisposed to it. However, there are certain things you can do to prevent it.

Research has determined that diabetes, cholesterol, lack of exercise, smoking, high blood pressure, stress and having a stroke can increase your risk of contracting heart disease. So, to prevent heart disease, don’t smoke; limit your alcohol intake; engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day; get treated for stress and depression; manage your cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight.

A healthy diet is also critical for heart disease prevention. Eat more fruits, veggies, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, while avoiding salt and saturated fat and eating fewer cholesterol-laden foods, such animal products.

The Connection Between Heart Disease and Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute have recently discovered that what’s good for the heart may also be good for the prostate, suggesting that coronary heart disease and prostate cancer may have shared causes.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men. And in the United States, prostate cancer is the second most lethal cancer for men. Prostate cancer starts in the cells of the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system.

The correlation between coronary heart disease and prostate cancer was discovered when researchers were analyzing a group of 6,390 men participating in a four-year prostate cancer drug trial.

Jean-Alfred Thomas II, M.D., a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Urology at Duke University, is the lead author of the study, which was published on February 7, 2012, in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal.

Researchers found that having coronary heart disease increased the men’s risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent, with the risk rising over time.

Stephen Freedland M.D., associate professor of surgery and pathology in the Division of Urology at Duke and senior author of the paper, said the study has given them “a lot of good ideas for what to look at next” and that his research group will focus on the overlap between prostate cancer and other diseases associated with poor health habits.

More research is needed, but if future studies confirm that heart disease is a risk factor for prostate cancer, the same lifestyle changes that prevent heart disease and heart attacks will also apply to prostate cancer prevention.