Atrial Fibrillation Associated With Increased of Risk of Cancer in Women Interview with:
David Conen MD MPH
Department of Medicine
University Hospital Basel
Basel Switzerland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Conen: A previous study of a contemporary population with atrial fibrillation (AF) treated with oral anticoagulation showed that over a third of all deaths were due to non-cardiovascular causes, and malignancies accounted for the largest proportion of these deaths. These data suggested that AF patients may have an increased risk of malignancies, but little data existed to support this hypothesis.

During more than 19 years of follow-up, our study showed that atrial fibrillation was a significant risk factor for the occurrence of malignant cancer. After taking into account a large number of other risk factors and co-morbidities, the risk of cancer was approximately 50% higher among women with new-onset AF compared to women without AF. The risk of cancer was highest in the first 3 months after new-onset AF but remained significant beyond 1 year after new-onset AF (adjusted HR 1.42, p<0.001). We also observed a trend towards an increased risk of cancer mortality among women with new-onset AF. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Conen: Readers should be aware of the relationship between atrial fibrillation and malignant cancers. Our data emphasize the importance of risk factor reduction in Atrial fibrillation  patients to not only reduce recurrent AF episodes but to also potentially decrease other adverse outcomes (such as cancer). Atrial fibrillation patients should be closely followed and should receive optimal medical therapy. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Conen: Future studies are needed to confirm our findings and to assess the underlying mechanisms of the observed relationship. These potential mechanisms include shared risk factors (e.g. obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption) or systemic processes that increase the risk for both disease entities (e.g. inflammation, apoptosis). Future studies should also assess whether incorporating AF into cancer prediction models improve the performance of these scores. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Conen D, Wong JA, Sandhu RK, et al. Risk of Malignant Cancer Among Women With New-Onset Atrial Fibrillation. JAMA Cardiol.Published online May 25, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.0280.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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