Patients in Hong Kong who were newly diagnosed with heart disease had nearly twice the prevalence of colorectal tumors and cancers, according to a study in the Sept. 26 issue of JAMA.

The colon cancer was even more prevalent in people who had smoked and those afflicted with metabolic syndrome, according to researchers from the University of Hong Kong.

Colon or colorectal cancer is the second most prevalent cancer worldwide, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and other industrialized countries, according to background information in the article.

Dr. Annie On On Chan, of the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of colorectal cancer and colorectal neoplasms in patients with newly diagnosed coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as heart disease.

Participants in the study were from Hong Kong and were recruited between November 2004 and June 2006 for colonoscopy screening after undergoing coronary angiography for suspected heart disease.

The researchers found that colorectal tumors and advanced lesions were more prevalent, 34 percent and 18.4 percent, respectively, in the CAD-positive group when compared to the group that did not have heart disease, and a "general population" group.

The researchers also found that both metabolic syndrome and history of smoking were strong predictive factors for the positive association between advanced colon lesions and heart disease. The authors believe

“Both colorectal neoplasm and CAD probably develop through the mechanism of chronic inflammation," the authors wrote.