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Are heart disease and prostate cancer linked?

The same factors that contribute to heart disease may also increase a man's chances of developing prostate cancer, according to researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, N.C.

While analyzing data from participants in a drug trial, they found that men with existing cardiovascular disease faced a 35-per-cent greater risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer during the four-year study compared to those who were free of heart troubles.

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"Obviously this is just one study and it needs to be validated," said the senior researcher, Stephen Freedland. But the findings suggest that lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet, which are known to prevent heart disease, may also guard against prostate cancer.

"What's good for the heart may be good for the prostate," said Jean-Alfred Thomas, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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