Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Cancer Linked to Other Chronic Illnesses

People With High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Attack More Likely to Have Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 2, 2010 -- Having a heart attack or chronic illness may raise the risk of being diagnosed with cancer, according to a new survey.

Researchers found that people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes were about twice as likely to have cancer as healthy people without these chronic illnesses.

In addition, the survey found that people who had suffered a heart attack were nearly three times more likely to have a cancer diagnosis than those who hadn't.

The survey was conducted as part of the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index and based on telephone interviews with more than 350,000 adults in the U.S. conducted between Jan. 2- Dec. 30, 2008, and Jan. 2- Dec. 29, 2009. It has a sampling error of no more than 1 percentage point.

The survey showed the relationship between a cancer diagnosis and the following health conditions:

Health Condition

% Diagnosed With Cancer

High blood pressure


No high blood pressure


High cholesterol


No high cholesterol




No diabetes


Heart attack


No heart attack


The risk of developing any of these chronic illnesses increases with advancing age, but researchers say the link between these illnesses and cancer remained significant within every age bracket. The relationship between cancer and some of the conditions, such as heart attack, were especially pronounced under age 45.

Researchers point out that the results do not necessarily mean any of these chronic illnesses cause cancer, but they do show that cancer and chronic conditions share many risk factors and may be interrelated.

For example, smoking cigarettes is a risk factor for both heart attack and lung cancer, and cholesterol itself is not a cancer-causing substance but can enhance the effects of other carcinogens in the body.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas