Can’t women get a break? Apparently not, according to new research from the Botucatu Medical School at Paulista State University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The study, which was published in the journal Menopause of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), highlights why women over age 45 who have experienced breast cancer are at higher risk of developing heart disease.
Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, the executive director of NAMS was not involved in the study, but explained that "In addition to toxicity from chemotherapy or radiation therapy, many women go on antiestrogens if they have an estrogen sensitive breast cancer. Loss of estrogen may be associated with higher risk of heart disease.”
The researchers leading the study, Dr. Daniel de Araujo Brito Buttros and colleagues, looked at 288 post-menopausal women, 96 of whom had completed breast cancer treatment, and 192 of whom had never had breast cancer. None of the participants in the study had ever had cardiovascular disease.
The team determined that their post-menopausal participants who had had breast cancer were much more likely to develop risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertriglyceridemia and abdominal obesity.
In response to these findings, the researchers urge breast cancer patients to speak with their doctors regarding preventative measures they can take whilst in treatment and post-treatment.
"Heart-healthy lifestyle modifications can decrease both the risk of recurrent breast cancer and the risk of developing heart disease,” commented Dr. Pinkerton. “Thus, women should be evaluated for heart disease risk, as they are being treated for breast cancer, and continue to be followed for increased risk after treatment for breast cancer.”