New study suggests that women with a common heart rhythm abnormality are at an increased risk of developing cancer, most commonly, colorectal cancer.
The lead researcher, Dr. David Conen from the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland found a significant relationship between the atrial fibrillation and the presence of cancerous cells.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of abnormal heartbeat and is usually associated with an increased risk of stroke and other heart problems. It affects about 33 million people worldwide.
The study demonstrates an association between the two rather than atrial fibrillation causing cancer.
The study followed about 35,000 healthy women aged 45 and older for 20 years. Of these 35,000 women, those who developed atrial fibrillation had a 60% increased risk of cancer diagnosis.
Conen added that there may be a real connection between atrial fibrillation and cancer however it is more likely that there are other shared risk factors for both conditions. These factors include smoking and obesity.
It is believed that men most likely have the same risk however the study did not look into men and the relationship between atrial fibrillation and cancer.
The best ways to reduce your risk of atrial fibrillation or cancer is to lose weight, quit smoking, and exercise. By reducing the risk of one, you reduce the risk of the other.
At the beginning of the study, the female subjects did not have atrial fibrillation or other heart problems or cancer. They were then followed between 1993 and 2013 to see if they had developed either atrial fibrillation or cancer.
Increased risk was highest over the three months after having developed atrial fibrillation but continued to persist long term.