Positive association between resting pulse and cancer incidence in current and former smokers

James R Cerhan, Marian Pavuk, Robert B. Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To evaluate the association between resting pulse and cancer incidence in older persons. METHODS: A cohort of 2819 persons, aged 65 to 102 years at baseline, was followed for the development of cancer from 1982 through 1993 by linkage to a statewide cancer registry; 494 incident cases were identified. Resting radial pulse (beats per minute) was measured during an in-person interview at baseline, and sex-specific quintile cutpoints were used in the analysis. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, body mass, smoking, and physical activity, there was a positive association between pulse and cancer incidence in men: compared to men with a pulse of < 63, men with a pulse of 63-68 (relative risk (RR); 95% confidence interval (CI): RR = 1.68; CI = 1.06-2.66), 69-74 (RR = 1.54; CI = 0.95-2.49), 75-82 (RR = 1.62; CI = 1.03-2.55), and > 82 (RR = 1.63; CI = 1.03-2.65) were at elevated risk for any cancer. This association remained unchanged after further adjustment for cardiovascular comorbidity, diabetes, alcohol use, high level of depressive symptoms, and low self-perceived health status. Exclusion of cases diagnosed in the first two years of follow-up did not alter the association. There was no overall association between pulse and cancer incidence in women. Analyses stratified by smoking status showed that the pulse and cancer association was strongest in ever smokers for both men and women. In subsite analysis for men, pulse was mainly associated with smoking-related tumors as a group and colorectal and prostate cancer. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that resting pulse is associated with cancer incidence, mainly among ever smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-44
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes



  • Cohort Study
  • Heart Rate
  • Neoplasms
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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