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Understanding the Link Between Cancer and Heart Health

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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it can feel overwhelming and scary. Our bodies are deeply interconnected; when one system gets thrown off-balance, it impacts others in ways we don’t expect. In turn, prostate cancer treatments can sometimes lead to unintended effects throughout the body—including increasing risk for heart disease. While the priority for prostate cancer patients is to treat the cancer, it’s essential to maintain overall wellness during and after treatment with a holistic view. 

What’s the Connection?

Prostate cancer and heart health are intertwined in a few key ways. For starters, some common treatments for prostate cancer, like Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), have been linked with heart disease risk going up in the months after starting treatment.  Researchers think this is because ADT may alter metabolism, subsequently affecting heart health. Additionally, dealing with a condition like prostate cancer is stressful! Long-term (chronic) stress makes heart disease worse for prostate cancer patients. When that builds up over months or even years, it takes a toll on the heart.

Unequal Outcomes: Race and Prostate Cancer Heart Risk

Black men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at a disproportionate rate to their White counterparts. Some experts believe this stems from Black communities often facing more social disadvantages, like lack of access to quality healthcare and neighborhood safety. These life stressors appear to compound the physical stress of battling cancer. Research shows the connection between prostate cancer and heart disease seems to hit Black men hardest; they face an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease after prostate cancer treatment. We need progress on both scientific and social fronts to close the outcome gap between Black and White prostate cancer patients.

What You Can Do

Managing heart health should be a part of every prostate cancer survivorship plan. Be sure your healthcare team communicates between specialties to monitor your heart disease risk factors during and after treatment. Exercising, eating healthy, quitting smoking, and finding healthy ways to cope with stress can make a big difference. Building a support network you can lean on during the cancer battle can help minimize your stress levels as well. Education about heart disease risk factors can help develop a better understanding for patients and empower them when developing a care plan with their healthcare providers. 

The intersection of prostate cancer and heart disease is a complex and evolving field. Research is ongoing to develop better tools to predict risk and prevent heart disease for prostate cancer patients. Research is looking into the potential benefits of early screening and personalizing treatments to lower heart disease among these men.


Every prostate cancer journey is unique. But keeping your heart health in check will ensure you’re in the best shape both during and after facing prostate cancer. Check out some of our resources on survivorship, healthy living, mental health wellness, and more below!

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Prostate Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease

Everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive prostate cancer, regardless of race, sexual orientation, financial resources, physical abilities, or area of residence. This aspiration is called health equity, and this aspiration informs everything that ZERO does in empowering every person who is affected by prostate cancer. 

In this session from our 2022 Health Equity Symposium, learn about prostate cancer and cardiovascular health with Dr. Avirup Guha.

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