Connection Found Between Breast Cancer and Heart Health

Students from both teams prepare to smack the ball to the opposing side at the Big Pink Volleyball tournament at the Wellness Center on February 22, 2017. While UCO emphasizes Big Pinkand raising breast cancer awareness, scientists have discovered a correlation between breast cancer and heart disease. (Vista Archives)

UCO hosts another Big Pink week this week with it’s annual volleyball tournament and in the seven years Central has hosted the tournament, $44,000 has been raised and donated to Susan G. Komen-Central and Western Oklahoma.
However, a new scientific statement issued by the American Heart Association underscores the commonalities between cardiovascular disease and breast cancer among women, and it calls for more focus on research and specialized treatment where the diseases overlap.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women globally. However, more women think breast cancer is the bigger threat. In many ways, the two diseases can intertwine.
“Heart disease and breast cancer share common risk factors such as age, sedentary lifestyle and smoking,” said Laxmi Mehta, cardiologist and director of preventative cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at Ohio State University Ross Heart Hospital. “More importantly, we see that many of the same things that improve heart health (healthy diet, healthy weight, exercise, not smoking) can also reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer.”
The statement, chaired by Mehta, shared risk factors and cardio-toxic effects of cancer therapy, as well as prevention and treatment of heart disease in breast cancer patients.
Mehta said the use of hormone replacement therapy is another common risk factor for women. Studies have shown it can increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease among certain groups of women, and is therefore a risk factor that can be modified.
“These potential side effects impact each patient differently. Let me be clear, we are not suggesting that breast cancer patients should worry about or refuse their recommended breast cancer treatment,” said Mehta. “Modern treatment is essential for fighting breast cancer and improving survival. The potential cardiovascular effects are an important part of the conversation that patients should have with their oncologist,”
The interconnection doesn’t end when the cancer is gone though,  long-term breast cancer survivors can develop heart problems after certain cancer treatments.
Survivors also have increased cardiovascular risk factors, and the statement points out that heart disease prevention and modification of cardiac risk factors is essential during and after breast cancer treatment.
“Fortunately, with the ongoing advances in cancer treatment we are seeing improved survival of cancer patients. However heart disease prior to, during or after cancer treatment can impact outcomes.  We need to be successful in treating both cancer and heart disease,” said Mehta. “Additionally we hope this paper drives even more interest in the field so we can continue to see the development of more training programs, research and guideline development in the field of cardio-oncology.”

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