Increased Cancer Risk Seen in Women with New-Onset Atrial Fibrillation

Women with new-onset atrial fibrillation found to have a high risk of developing cancer in the first 3 months.

Findings from a recent study suggest there is an increased cancer risk for women with new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF).

The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, included 34,691 women age 45 years or older who were followed between 1993 and 2013 for incident of AF and cancer.

The women included did not have AF, cardiovascular disease, and/or cancer at the beginning of the Women’s Health Study, which was a clinical trial of aspirin and vitamin E to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

During the follow-up period, researchers found that 1467 (4.2%) patients had new-onset AF and 5130 (14.8%) patients had cancer.

After adjustment for risk factors, researchers discovered that new-onset AF was a risk factor for the diagnosis of incident cancer, with the risk higher within 3 months of new-onset AF, according to the study. AF was most strongly linked with colon cancer.

However, researchers noted that patients with new onset cancer showed an increased risk of AF within the first 3 months, but not after.

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"Shared risk factors and/or common systemic disease processes might underlie this association," the authors concluded. "Future studies are needed to assess the mechanisms underlying this association and to determine whether a diagnosis of AF incrementally adds to existing cancer risk prediction algorithms. Regardless, optimal risk factor control in patients with AF seems prudent."