Can depression and anxiety cause cancer?

London [UK], Jan. 27 : Stay positive for a healthy and disease free life as a study warns that people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders are at higher risk of dying from cancer.

The findings, published in The BMJ medical journal indicated that those who were in psychological distress had a 32 percent great chance of later dying from cancer.

"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, and oesophagus and for leukaemia," said study author Dr David Batty from the University College London.

"Our findings contribute to the evidence that poor mental health might have some predictive capacity for certain physical diseases but we are a long way off from knowing if these relationships are truly causal," Batty added.

Researchers at University College London and the University of Edinburgh reviewed the findings of 16 studies involving 1, 63,000 people to establish how feeling worried and withdrawn impacts survival.

The results indicate that 4,353 died from the disease during a 14-year period up until 2008. However, they stressed this correlation was not evidence that depression caused cancer. In fact, it could be the other way around - that having undiagnosed cancer results in changes in the body that make people feel unhappy even if they are unaware they are sick.

But it also said there were potential ways that depression could have an effect on cancer. They found that prolonged immune dysregulation can compromise the repair capacity of the exposed cells, potentially contributing to genetic instability and mutations, alterations in DNA repair, and inhibition of apoptosis.

"Of the biological mechanisms, mood disorders such as depression have been implicated in immune pathways and are known to provoke inflammatory responses," the study stated.

"Our findings add to the growing evidence of an association between psychological distress and physical conditions by characterising new relations with death from selected cancer presentations," the authors concluded.

Source: ANI