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Are People With AFIB  at Increased Cancer Risk?

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AFIB and Increased Cancer Risk

Melanie, a spry and spirited 64-year-old, found herself at a crossroads. Recently diagnosed with a condition called atrial fibrillation, or AFib, Melanie was torn on the best treatment approach.

Her cardiologist suggested that she consider an ablation. He promised that this medical intervention would almost certainly correct her heart’s rhythm. It could be a game-changer, but like all procedures, it wasn’t without significant risks. Melanie was intrigued by the potential success, yet she couldn’t overlook the reality: a roughly 50% chance that she might find herself back at square one in a year or two.

As if wrestling with her AFib treatment options wasn’t enough, Melanie stumbled upon some disquieting research. It turned out that her AFib didn’t just impact her heart. It could also be signaling a higher risk for cancer. The ablation, the pharmaceuticals, all the potential solutions she’d been considering—would do nothing to lessen this newfound cancer threat.

For Melanie, the realization was a sobering one. Managing her AFib with ablation or medication might not be enough. In her quest for a healthier life, she needed to aim for rhythm control and total body harmony. This would mean she’d need to look inward, reconsider her lifestyle, and embrace the support of nature’s vast array of remedies known to soothe inflammation.

This discovery may shock many, as it did Melanie. But understanding this link between AFib and cancer opens new pathways for prevention and treatment. Armed with this knowledge, we can step back from the edge of medical decisions and consider a more holistic approach to our health – one that lasts.

AFib and Cancer: What Does the Science Say?

Over the past few years, several studies have attempted to uncover the mysterious relationship between AFib and cancer, each adding a new facet to our understanding of this complex interaction.

A comprehensive 2023 study delved into the two-way connection between AFib and breast cancer. Researchers discovered that, among those battling breast cancer, roughly 3% also had a history of AFib. Moreover, they found that within a specified period, about 2.7% of these breast cancer patients experienced AFib for the first time. This significant two-way connection led the authors to conclude, “It’s not uncommon to find patients grappling with both breast cancer and AFib.”

In another 2020 systematic review, researchers observed that in the first 90 days of an AFib diagnosis, there was a marked increase in the risk of a subsequent cancer diagnosis. In particular, an association was noted between the onset of AFib and new breast and colorectal cancer diagnoses. These findings mimicked a 2018 study that found a transiently elevated cancer risk in the 90 days following an AFib event.

Inflammation: The connection between cause and disease.

Mainstream medicine often highlights smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure as risk factors for AFib and cancer. While these assertions hold water, they barely scratch the surface of the actual underlying issue. Beyond these risk factors lies a common enemy silently wreaking havoc: inflammation.

Inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury or disease, can become a significant health foe when it turns chronic. This persistent inflammation can act as a catalyst, transforming otherwise normal cells into potential troublemakers, sparking diseases like AFib and cancer. Hence, AFib and cancer aren’t merely conditions borne out of lifestyle missteps; they are more fundamentally the manifestations of sustained inflammation in the body.

Wholesome nutrition, an active lifestyle, and a healthy mindset are our best defenses against the onslaught of diseases like AFib and cancer. However, when these tenets are violated, it may lead to chronic inflammation, which, in turn, increases the risk of AFib and cancer.

AFIB Diagnostics and Treatments: A Double-Edged Sword?

As we venture deeper into the intricate relationship between AFib and cancer, we must consider the potential repercussions of mainstream AFib tests and treatments. While they may alleviate the irregular heartbeats associated with AFib, could these treatments inadvertently contribute to an increased risk of cancer?

Pharmaceutical solutions for AFib, while potentially beneficial in controlling the condition’s immediate symptoms, often have a list of side effects trailing behind them. Some of these include bleeding, bruising, and, for a few, an escalated risk of cancer. For example, studies show that certain beta-blockers increase the risk of cancer. Other research suggests a potential link between commonly prescribed antiarrhythmics and cancer mortality.

Beyond medications, many tests to detect and treat heart conditions use cancer-causing radiation. While many AFib diagnostic tests don’t involve radiation, a significant number of people with AFib undergo other cardiac investigations that do. Such tests include:

  • Nuclear cardiac stress tests
  • Chest CTs
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Coronary calcium scans
  • Chest x-rays
  • Coronary CT angiograms

Two notable studies shed light on these dangers. One discovered that one in ten adults had been exposed to radiation through cardiac imaging over a three-year period. Another identified a 3 percent rise in cancer risk for every additional 10 mSv of radiation from heart procedures. This evidence calls for a balanced approach in the use of medical imaging, favoring minimal exposure and reinforcing the relevance of natural, holistic remedies for AFib management.

Sadly, the very tools we use to combat AFib might inadvertently increase our vulnerability to another life-threatening illness, including cancer.

Understanding Detection Bias

The medical attention necessitated by AFib can result in what is known as detection bias. The flurry of tests and examinations that follow an AFib diagnosis can also unmask dormant or early-stage cancers. Therefore, the seemingly alarming correlation between AFib and cancer might partially result from enhanced medical scrutiny rather than a direct consequence of the heart condition itself.

However, if we return to our root cause – inflammation, and a lifestyle that doesn’t adhere to the “Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well” philosophy, we can perhaps see why AFib treatments might be indirectly contributing to the prevalence of cancer. Not addressing the problem’s root cause means it isn’t truly solved – it simply metamorphoses into a new issue, in this case, potentially cancer.

In the face of these challenges, approaching our health from a holistic, natural perspective is more critical than ever. By turning to nature’s bounty and modifying our lifestyles, we address the root cause of conditions like AFib and build a robust defense against a host of other illnesses, including cancer.

The Best Strategy to Prevent AFib and Cancer

It is remarkable to understand that the keys to preventing AFib and cancer largely overlap. The following strategies will help ward off both:

Eat Well

Eating well is about reaching back to our roots, emulating the dietary habits of our Paleolithic ancestors who thrived on a diverse menu, unmarred by modern food processing practices.

Embrace organic, nutrient-dense foods — think grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, and seafood caught in the wild. Delight in the simple crunch of nuts and seeds, small but mighty powerhouses of nourishment.

Turn away from the lure of processed foods, refined sugars, grains, gluten, and GMOs — these are the farthest removed from what nature intended. Shun the residue of pesticides and chemical-laden food.

Simply put, let your diet reflect nature’s abundant diversity and inherent goodness. The closer we are to the natural source of our food, the better armed we are in our fight against diseases like AFib and cancer.

Live Well

Living well is a finely tuned balance between rest and motion, a dance between respecting the body’s need for rejuvenation and the necessity for physical activity.

Sleep forms the cornerstone of a well-lived life. Like Goldilocks, our rest should be ‘just right’—neither too much nor too little. Aim for high-quality, uninterrupted sleep for around 7 to 9 hours. During these serene hours, our bodies repair pre-cancerous cells, recover, and prepare for the day ahead.

Complement your well-earned rest with the invigorating force of exercise. Emulate our ancestors by moving your body in spurts, aligning with the natural rhythms of exertion and rest they experienced. Let the great outdoors be your gym. The bonus is the gift of sunshine, delivering essential vitamin D and nitric oxide to your skin. If the circumstances allow, bask in the sun in all your natural glory for that extra dose of vitality.

Yet, living well extends beyond the domains of sleep and exercise. It means cultivating a clean, healthy environment and removing harmful environmental toxins and mold mycotoxins that can disrupt your body’s harmony.

In tandem with overall wellness, pay heed to spinal health, supported by regular chiropractic care. Just as a strong, flexible spine supports the body, good spinal health can form the backbone of overall well-being.

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of dental hygiene in the holistic health equation. Collaborate with a holistic dentist who understands dental health’s integral role in systemic wellness.

Think Well

While we are quick to acknowledge the importance of a nutritious diet, rejuvenating sleep, and invigorating exercise, we often let the significance of mental wellness slip under our radar. Our thoughts — the essence of our consciousness — frequently get overlooked in our quest for health. But thinking well is just as crucial, if not more so, in sustaining healthy hearts and warding off cancer.

Thinking well is about consciously curating a serene mental space. It’s about learning the art of stress reduction, striking a balance between the inevitable hurdles of life and the peace of mind we deserve. It’s about cultivating a positive mindset that sees the glass half full and rejoices in the fact that there’s room for more.

Additionally, thinking well means setting boundaries in our personal lives. It necessitates detaching from toxic relationships that drain our mental energy and instead, investing our time and emotions in relationships that foster love, support, and growth.

A part of thinking well is finding joy in life’s simple pleasures. It’s about surrounding ourselves with a community of loved ones and indulging in hobbies that ignite our passions. Whether losing yourself in a riveting novel, creating art, or dancing like no one’s watching, engaging in activities you love fuels your spirit and contributes to your overall health.

Thinking well is about finding our happiness — nurturing our minds as diligently as our bodies. As we strive to safeguard our hearts from ailments like AFib and ward off the specter of cancer, we must remember the irreplaceable role our thoughts play in shaping our health.

When we eat well, live well, and think well, we create a formidable defense against disease, embracing a holistic approach to health and happiness.

Next Steps

If you are concerned about AFib or cancer, you are not alone. The Natural Heart Doctor team has a few options for you.

For those seeking a structured journey towards heart health, consider embarking on our specially designed AFib course. This 8-week journey provides you with the knowledge and tools to naturally mitigate and reverse atrial fibrillation, all while naturally addressing the risk factors that lead to cancer.

Alternatively, if a direct conversation about your health strategy is what you need, we offer a free 20-minute health consultation with one of our expert coaches. This personalized session provides tailored advice to navigate your unique path to wellness.

Remember, the choice lies with you, and every step taken today is a step toward your 100 year heart.


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Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.


Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.


Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

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Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

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Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

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Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.