Why Surviving Cancer Can Increase Heart Disease Risk + What You Can Do

6 minute read

Cancer can strike at any time while heart disease is one of the top causes for death in this country. The two together are almost unthinkable and yet certain proteins used in chemotherapy have been linked to heart disease.

Facing cancer is bad enough but finding out your risk for heart disease goes up after you beat it is another matter entirely. Research shows that heart disease is the number one cause of death in cancer survivors, and it is now clear why.

This means cancer survivors face additional challenges that are in need of immediate attention.

From One Battle to Another

A compound found in chemotherapy treatments has been found to also play a big role in the development of heart disease. CDK2 is a protein linked to heart disease. Doxorubicin, commonly found in chemotherapy drugs, increases the CDK2 levels in your cardiac muscle cells.

This chemotherapy drug is very efficient at controlling tumor formation and metastasis. However, in large doses it damages heart cells. This is a dangerous trade-off that has prompted researchers to look for alternative methods for protecting cancer survivors.

By identifying the relationship between chemotherapy drugs and heart health, researchers have developed inhibitor drugs to counteract the increased CDK2 levels. Combining the chemotherapy with these CDK2 inhibitors as part of the cancer treatment program has the potential to control tumor growth while protecting the heart at the same time.

Prevention Is Your Best Strategy

When it comes to cancer and heart disease, your best defense is prevention. Even though you can do everything right, there is still a chance of developing either condition, which makes them so daunting.

The best approach is to be proactive, stay positive, and incorporate cancer prevention strategies as well as heart-healthy activities into your life. In this way, you stand the best chance of beating whatever comes your way.

By making lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk for cancer. A few simple changes are all you need, and they are much easier than you think.

Staying Active, Even a Little

Exercising daily promotes overall health and reduces your risk for certain cancers. The best part is that you don’t have to run marathons or lift weights in the gym every day. All you need is as little as 30 minutes of light aerobic activity each day to keep you healthy.

More Veggies, Less Red Meat

Eating a balanced diet goes a long way towards keeping you healthy and warding off cancer. Getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables ensures you get antioxidant support, which plays an important preventive role against cancer.

You also want to avoid red and processed meats, as they are high in animal fat which can increase cancer risk.

Stub Out the Habit

Smoking is one of the most important cancer risk factors that we can control. Smoking and exposure to smoke significantly increase your risk for cancer, so quitting and limiting smoke exposure is your best defense. You will notice improvement in your health as soon as you quit, and after some time, your health returns to optimal levels.

Limit your alcohol consumption to ensure your chances of cancer stay minimal. Drinking as little as one glass per day for women and one glass for men can increase your cancer risk by as much as 12 percent.

| Related: Can Probiotics Benefit Cancer Patients? |

Make sure you know your environment. When it comes to being in the sun, protect your skin to avoid skin cancer. Limit your exposure to toxins and environmental pollutions as much as possible to give yourself additional protection against carcinogenic toxins.

Improving Cardiovascular Health

Just as you can prevent cancer, you can also promote heart health to enhance your protection against heart disease. Whether you have cancer or not, preventing heart disease should be one of your main health goals.

Eating plenty of fresh produce helps keep cancer away and protects your heart. It is the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables that help protect your heat from oxidative damage, which contributes both to cancer and heart disease.

Losing weight and getting regular exercise also improves cardiovascular health. Excess fat in the body triggers widespread inflammation, which damages heart muscle cells. Exercising not only promotes efficient circulation, but it helps to reduce fat storage and weight gain.

Smoking increases your risk for heart disease in the same way as it does for cancer. By increasing blood pressure levels and reducing the efficiency with which your body transports oxygen, smoking places unnecessary strain on your heart.

Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease so needs to be controlled or prevented. Monitor blood glucose levels carefully and change your diet to remove high-sugar foods. Losing excess weight also helps to control diabetes, which ultimately protects your heart too.

Watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels helps to protect your heart. High cholesterol levels can cause plaques to develop in your arteries, which increases blood pressure and causes atherosclerosis, both of which contribute to heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in krill oil, can help improve heart health.

| Related: The 13 Top Foods Key to Lowering Blood Pressure Through Diet |

Triglycerides are fatty molecules in the blood. The more you have of these, the more obstruction your blood flow has to face. Greater strain is placed on your heart, thereby increasing your risk of heart disease.

The Bottom Line

Cancer can be beaten, and heart disease can be prevented. By taking care of your heart and reducing the risks of cancer you have the best chances of surviving.

Outside of self-care, chemotherapy offers the best in fighting cancer, but this should not come at the expense of your heart health. New CDK2 inhibitors now offer cancer survivors better odds against heart disease, so you can get on with living life on your terms.

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