Heart Disease Prevention Should Start During Childhood

A new study shows a heart-healthy lifestyle during childhood may prevent heart disease later in life.




Heart disease remains the most common cause of death in the United States, and throughout much of the world.

While most of us associate the development of cardiovascular disease with the bad diet and lifestyle habits that we adopt during adulthood, there is plenty of evidence showing that the underlying cause of coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis (also known as “hardening of the arteries”) may actually begin during childhood. Now, a newly published prospective clinical research study of adolescents in Finland reveals that a heart-healthy lifestyle, if adopted during childhood, can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis much earlier in life than was previously thought possible.  This study is published in the current issue of the journal Circulation.

Beginning in 1990, more than 1,000 infants were enrolled in this long-term prospective clinical study. These young research volunteers, who were 7 months of age when they entered into this research study, were randomly divided into two groups. The “intervention” group’s parents were intensively educated about heart-healthy diet and lifestyle factors, while the parents of the control group children received only the standard health information typically provided by pediatricians. These two groups of children were then closely followed through childhood, and into adolescence. A total of 7 cardiovascular health lifestyle factors were monitored throughout this research study. At ages 15, 17 and 19, the teenagers participating in this public health study underwent ultrasound measurements of the aorta (the largest artery in the body) to assess for thickening of the wall of this artery, which is a sign of early atherosclerosis. Ultrasound was also used to assess the elasticity of the aorta, which is reduced even at the earliest stages of atherosclerosis.

The lifestyle factors that were closely monitored during this prospective study included food choices, cholesterol levels in the blood, obesity levels, smoking, and exercise levels.

The results of this study confirmed the findings of earlier research studies that atherosclerosis, which leads to coronary artery (heart) disease does, indeed, begin early in life. The teenagers who followed only a few (or none) of the heart-healthy lifestyle recommendations throughout childhood were 78 percent more likely to have evidence, by ultrasound, of early atherosclerosis of the aorta when compared to the teens who had followed most of the recommended heart-healthy lifestyle strategies!

The findings of this long-term prospective randomized clinical research study are enormously important, as they show that failing to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle during childhood leads to a huge increase in the incidence of early atherosclerosis which, in turn, would be expected to progress to symptoms of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. As with prior clinical research studies, this study confirms that physical activity levels, diet, body weight, exposure to tobacco smoke, and other modifiable lifestyle factors play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis, even during childhood. Therefore, based upon this important study’s findings, it appears that it really is never too soon to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle!Parents who wish to minimize the future risk of cardiovascular disease in their children should, therefore, take note of the findings of this innovative research study, even during the earliest years of their children’s lives.


As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle not only reduces your risk of dying from cancer, but also reduces your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease at the same time.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.


Join Dr. Wascher on Facebook


Additional Links for Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

Profile of Dr. Wascher by Oncology Times

Bio of Dr. Wascher at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dr. Wascher Discusses Predictions of Decreased Cancer Risk on azfamily.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention Strategies on LIVESTRONG

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention on Newsmax

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer Risk & Cancer Prevention on The Doctors Radio Show

Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Cancer on cancersupportivecare.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Exercise in Cancer Prevention on Open Salon

Dr. Wascher Discusses Aspirin as a Potential Preventive Agent for Pancreatic Cancer on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Treatment of Stomach Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Management of Metastatic Cancer of the Liver on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on hopenavigators.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on interactmd.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Thyroid Cancer on health2fit.com


Links to Other Breaking Health News

Woman with Transplanted Uterus Becomes Pregnant

Cutting Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Anemia in Newborns

Recent Advances in Prosthetic Limbs to Help Boston Marathon Bombing Victims

Spiny New Bandage May Speed Healing of Skin Wounds

Study Confirms that Men Really Do Have Trouble Reading the Thoughts of Women

Deadly new Bird Flu Strain Cases Continue to Rise

Abdominal Fat Increases Kidney Disease Risk

Increasing Dietary Potassium & Decreasing Salt Intake Reduces Stroke Risk

A New Explanation for the Link Between Red Meat & Cardiovascular Disease

Deadly New Bird Flu Identified in China

Infection Risk: Keeping an Eye on Your Dentist

Couple Loses 500 Pounds in Two Years

Coffee May Reduce Crash Risk for Long-Distance Drivers

Tiny Implant Tells Your Smart Phone When You Are Having A Heart Attack

Transplanted Kidney Causes Death Due to Rabies

Eating While Distracted Increases Calorie Intake

Resistant Bacteria are on the Rise

High Levels of Stress Linked to an Increase in Heart Disease Risk

Small Snacks Cut Hunger as Well as Big Snacks

Poor Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

Ancient Mummies Found to Have Heart Disease by CT Scan

Physically Fit Kids Do Better on Math & Reading Tests

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Evades the Immune System

Possible Link Between BPA and Asthma

Baby Boomers Appear Less Healthy Than Their Parents

The Biology of Love in the Brain

Millennials May be the Most Stressed-Out Generation

Even Modest Alcohol Intake Raises Cancer Risk

Why Do Boys Receive Lower Grades than Girls?

Negative Emotions and Feelings Can Damage Your Health

Canker Sore Drug Cures Obesity (At Least in Mice…)

How Technology is Changing the Practice of Medicine

New Salt Intake Guidelines for Children

High Levels of Distress in Childhood May Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Quitting Tobacco by Age 40 Restores a Normal Lifespan in Smokers

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Self-Help Books Improve Depression

Marines Try Mindfulness and Meditation to Reduce PTSD

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed

Dr. Wascher’s Home Page

Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


Bookmark and Share

Post to Twitter

Better Tag Cloud