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Coronary artery disease and colorectal neoplasms share several risk factors including poor diet, obesity, smoking, and the metabolic syndrome. So it makes sense that the two diseases might coexist. In a cross sectional study from Hong Kong, Chinese researchers found more cancers and adenomas in adults with coronary heart disease than in controls who were clear of the disease. The link persisted when they compared patients with coronary artery disease with age and sex matched controls from the general population.
The researchers started with a group of men and women who needed coronary angiography for suspected coronary artery disease. All of them then had a colonoscopy. Just over a third of the 206 adults with a positive angiogram had either an adenoma or a cancer (34%, 70/206) compared with 19% of those with a negative angiogram (39/208) and 21% (43/207) of population controls (P<0.001 for both comparisons). For cancer alone the figures were 4% (9/206), 0.5% (1/208), and 1% (3/207) (P=0.02).
In this study, the link between heart disease and colonic neoplasms was strongest in patients who smoked or had the metabolic syndrome, a well defined cluster of at least three cardiovascular risk factors.