Can depression and anxiety cause cancer?

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The global prevalence of depression and anxiety is on the rise. Sergey Filimonov/Stocksy
  • About 5% of the world’s adult population is depressed, and about 40-50% of people with major depression will also experience anxiety.
  • Previous studies have linked depression and anxiety to an increased risk of certain diseases, including cancer.
  • Researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen have found evidence challenging the theory that depression and anxiety increase a person’s cancer risk.

Depression affects approx 5% of the world’s adult population. People with depression often have additional mental health problems, especially anxiety.

Previous research has shown that around 40-50% of people with anxiety will also experience depression. And these percentages are similar for people with major depression who also experience anxiety.

Because of the profound impact they can have on the body, depression and anxiety have been linked to an increased risk of certain diseases, including heart disease such as heart attack and stroke, and dementia.

Besides that, previous lessons have linked depression and anxiety to a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Now, researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen have found evidence to challenge the theory that depression and anxiety increase a person’s cancer risk.

This study was recently published in the journal Cancerpeer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

According to the study’s lead author Dr. Lonneke A. van Tuijl, who at the time of the study was a post-doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University Medical Center Groningen and is now an assistant professor in the Clinical Department. Psychology at the University of Utrecht, it has long been believed that depression and anxiety increase cancer risk, but previous research on the subject has been quite conflicting.

“Studies also differ in definition and approach, making it difficult to get an overall conclusion using more traditional methods,” he said Medical News Today.

“Within the PSY-CA consortium, we aim to be more harmonized across the cohorts that are included with how the constructs are defined and the analyzes we use. For example, we ensure that we adjust for smoking behavior and other known risk factors wherever possible,” he said.

For their studies, Dr. van Tuijl and his team analyzed data from International Psychosocial Factors and Cancer Occurrence Consortium. This database includes information from 18 prospective study groups with more than 300,000 adults from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, and Canada.

The researchers found no association between depression and anxiety and, overall, breast, colorectal, and prostate related to alcohol cancer during follow-up to 26 years.

“We hypothesized an association and were slightly surprised that this was not the case for cancers overall, breast, prostate, colorectal and alcohol-related,” said Dr. van Tuijl. “However, the findings are very consistent and clear.”

Depression is a mental health condition in which a person experiences persistent feelings of sadness that affects their ability to live their life.

There are several different causes of depression, including:

Like depression, anxiety is also a mood disorder. With anxiety, a person is constantly worried and nervous.

For some people, anxiety can be a sign of underlying depression. And for others, their anxiety can trigger their depression. It is not uncommon for someone to experience depression and anxiety.

The research team found that depression and anxiety were linked to a 6% higher risk of developing lung cancer and related to smoking cancer, and for anxiety symptoms which increased by up to 24% increased risk of a depression diagnosis.

However, this risk was reduced substantially after adjusting for other cancer-related risk factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (4% for anxiety symptoms and 8% for a diagnosis of depression).

Scientists believe the findings of lung cancer and smoking support the importance of tackling tobacco and other use unhealthy habits which can develop as a result of depression and/or anxiety.

“I hope our findings will be used to provide assistance to cancer patients who attribute their diagnosis to prior depression or anxiety,” said Dr. van Tuijl.

“We presented our findings at a scientific conference last year, and one oncologist in the audience was pleased with our findings because it gave him something to give as evidence to patients who were preoccupied with thinking their diagnosis was linked to prior depression. or anxiety,” he said.

In addition, Dr. van Tuijl said their future research would further examine known risk factors and their association with depression and anxiety.

“For example, it could be that depression leads to more smoking, which in turn increases the risk of lung cancer,” he continued.

“Or, it could be that the link between smoking-related anxiety and cancer is only evident in people who are overweight. These two possibilities [are] something we are currently researching further at PSY-CA, and results will be published soon,” he added.

After reviewing this research, Dr. Parvin Peddi, a board-certified medical oncologist and director of Breast Medical Oncology for the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and professor of medical oncology at Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California, was told Medical News Today these findings were consistent with what he saw in his clinic.

“Even though some patients have an underlying or prior history of depression/anxiety, many do not,” he explains.

“However, it is a very common thought for patients that they have cancer because of stress, anxiety, or depression, or that if they experience continued stress, there is a high probability that the cancer will return. It’s great to have this research as proof that this is not true and for patients, of course, to reduce anxiety/stress but not stress about stress!”
— dr. Parvin Peddy

Dr. Kristina Espinosa, an accredited clinical psychologist with the Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida, agrees.

“These findings may provide some relief to our patients who may blame their mental health condition as the reason they have cancer,” he said. MNT. “As a mental health provider, the discussion about how chronic psychological pressure can influence one’s outlook and coping abilities continue to develop.”

“This research offers initial alignment with how various factors influence health and disease. Mental health needs to be better understood so that interventions can effectively target and reduce risk and improve overall well-being,” Dr. Espinosa added.

For readers looking for ways to lower their overall cancer risk, Drs. Peddi and Espinosa suggest these tips:

“It is important to note that while these are considerations, other factors, such as genetics And environmental factor which are beyond a person’s control, play a role in cancer risk. The key is to maximize prevention by making the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce risk,” said Dr. Espinosa.

#depression #anxiety #cancer

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