DURHAM, N.C. In a large analysis of men participating in a prostate drug trial, researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute found a significant correlation between coronary artery disease and prostate cancer, suggesting the two conditions may have shared causes.
If confirmed that heart disease is a risk factor for prostate cancer, the malignancy might be combated in part by lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet, which are known to prevent heart disease.
"What's good for the heart may be good for the prostate," said Jean-Alfred Thomas II, M.D., a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Urology at Duke and lead author of the study, which appears online this month in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Coronary artery disease kills more adults in the United States than any other cause, accounting for one in four deaths. Risk factors include inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, cigarette smoking, and diabetes.
Similarly, prostate cancer is a common killer. It's the second-most lethal cancer for U.S. men, behind lung cancer, with about 240,000 new cases diagnosed a year, and 34,000 deaths. Previous studies exploring the relationship between coronary artery disease and prostate cancer risk have found conflicting results, making it difficult to determine whether the malignancy is fueled by poor lifestyle choices.
In the current study, the Duke team used data from 6,390 men enrolled in a large study called REDUCE, a four-year, randomized trial to test the prostate cancer risk reduction benefits of a drug called dutasteride. All the study participants had a prostate biopsy at the two- and four-year marks, regardless of their PSA levels. They also provided a detailed medical history that included their weight, incidence of heart disease, alcohol intake, medication use and other factors.
Among the men in the study, 547 reported a pre-enrol
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Duke University Medical Center