Lack of Association Between Heart Failure and Incident Cancer

Senthil Selvaraj*, Deepak L. Bhatt, Brian Claggett, Luc Djoussé, Sanjiv J. Shah, Jiaying Chen, Tasnim F. Imran, Saadia Qazi, Howard D. Sesso, J. Michael Gaziano, Deborah Schrag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Several recent studies have suggested an increased cancer risk among patients with heart failure (HF). However, these studies are constrained by limited size and follow-up, lack of comprehensive data on other health attributes, and adjudicated cancer outcomes. Objectives: This study sought to determine whether HF is associated with cancer incidence and cancer-specific mortality. Methods: The study assembled a cohort from the Physicians’ Health Studies I and II, 2 randomized controlled trials of aspirin and vitamin supplements conducted from 1982 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2011, respectively, that included annual health evaluations and determination of cancer and HF diagnoses. In the primary analysis, the study excluded participants with cancer or HF at baseline and performed multivariable-adjusted Cox models to determine the relationship between HF and cancer, modeling HF as a time-varying exposure. In a complementary analysis, the study used the landmark method and identified cancer-free participants at 70 years of age, distinguishing between those with and without HF, and likewise performed Cox regression. Sensitivity analyses were performed at 65, 75, and 80 years of age. Results: Among 28,341 Physicians’ Health Study participants, 1,420 developed HF. A total of 7,363 cancers developed during a median follow-up time of 19.9 years (25th to 75th percentile: 11.0 to 26.8 years). HF was not associated with cancer incidence in crude (hazard ratio: 0.92; 95% confidence interval: 0.80 to 1.08) or multivariable-adjusted analysis (hazard ratio: 1.05; 95% confidence interval: 0.86 to 1.29). No association was found between HF and site-specific cancer incidence or cancer-specific mortality after multivariable adjustment. Results were similar when using the landmark method at all landmark ages. Conclusions: HF is not associated with an increased risk of cancer among male physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1501-1510
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 10 2018


  • heart failure
  • incident cancer
  • malignancy
  • tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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