(HealthDay News) — Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are associated with an increased risk for future cancer, while a heart-healthy lifestyle is associated with lower cancer risk, according to a study published online in JACC: CardioOncology.

Emily S. Lau, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues evaluated the extent to which co-occurrence of CVD and cancer is due to shared risk factors or other mechanisms. The analysis included 20,305 participants in the Framingham Heart Study and the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease study.

The researchers identified 2548 incident cancer cases during a median follow-up of 15 years. There was an independent association between traditional CVD risk factors, including age, sex, and smoking status, and cancer. There was also an association noted between estimated 10-year atherosclerotic risk score and future cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 1.16 per 5% increase in risk). There was an association between natriuretic peptides and incident cancer (tertile 3 vs tertile 1: HR, 1.40) but no association for high-sensitivity troponin. Prevalent CVD and interim cardiovascular events were not associated with a higher risk for subsequent cancer, but ideal cardiovascular health was associated with lower future cancer risk (HR, 0.95 per 1-point increase in the American Heart Association health score).

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“From a public health perspective, the case for primordial prevention, that is, prevention of the development of risk factors in the first place, has never been stronger,” according to the authors of an accompanying editorial.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.