The few studies that have assessed the association between symptomatic atherosclerotic disease and risk of cancer have had conflicting results. In addition, these studies ascertained participants either from treatment settings (ie, service-based studies) or by using a records linkage system (ie, medical records of patients evaluated at clinics or hospitals) and, therefore, were prone to selection bias. Our purpose was to estimate the risk of cancer mortality in a large population-based sample of elderly people, comparing participants with symptomatic atherosclerotic disease (atherosclerotic stroke and coronary disease) to their counterparts without symptomatic atherosclerotic disease (ie, controls) in the same population. In this population-based, prospective study (Neurological Disorders of Central Spain, NEDICES), 5262 elderly community-dwelling participants with and without symptomatic atherosclerotic disease were identified and followed for a median of 12.1 years, after which the death certificates of those who died were reviewed. A total of 2701 (53.3%) of 5262 participants died, including 314 (68.6%) of 458 participants with symptomatic atherosclerotic disease and 2387 (49.7%) of 4804 controls. Cancer mortality was reported significantly less often in those with symptomatic atherosclerotic disease (15.6%) than in controls (25.6%) (P < 0.001). In an unadjusted Cox model, risk of cancer-specific mortality was decreased in participants with symptomatic atherosclerotic disease (HR = 0.74, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55-0.98, P = 0.04) vs. those without symptomatic atherosclerotic disease (reference group). In an adjusted Cox model, HR = 0.58; 95% CI, 0.38-0.89; P = 0.01. This population-based, prospective study suggests that there is an inverse association between symptomatic atherosclerotic disease and risk of cancer mortality.
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