Anxiety, depression may up death risk from some cancers

London, Jan 26 (IANS) Higher levels of psychological distress such as anxiety and depression may be associated with an increased risk of death from certain cancers, a study has found.

The results show that compared with people in the least distressed group, death rates in the most distressed group were consistently higher for cancer of the bowel, prostate, pancreas, oesophagus and for leukaemia.

Anxiety and depression are also related to increased rates of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.

“Our findings contribute to the evidence that poor mental health might have some predictive capacity for certain physical diseases,” said lead author David Batty from University College London.

The team analysed data from 16 studies — 13 from England and three from Scotland — to examine if psychological distress is a potential predictor of site specific cancer mortality.

In total, 163,363 men and women aged 16 or over and free from cancer at the start of the study were included.

Psychological distress scores were measured using the general health questionnaire and participants were monitored for an average of nine-and-a-half years. During this time, there were 4,353 deaths from cancer.

“This association may also be affected by reverse causality where undiagnosed (early) cancer might have had an underlying impact on mood,” the researchers noted in the paper published in the BMJ.