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Depression And Anxiety Do Not Increase Risk Of Cancer: Study

The data was collected from 300,000 adults across the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway and Canada published in ACS Journal.

Depression and anxiety do not increase the risks of developing most types of cancer, a new study has shown, according to the ACS Journal.

A young woman looking outside at her window. A study found that depression and anxiety don’t increase the risk of cancer. (KLAUS NIELSEN/PEXELS)

Dutch researchers studied data collated from more than 300,000 people across four nations and saw little correlation between those who develop cancer and anxiety and depression.

Medical experts have long suspected depression and anxiety may increase the risk of people developing cancer, either by affecting a person’s health-related behaviors or by having biological effects on the body that support cancer development.

Some previous research has supported an association between depression and anxiety with cancer incidence, though other such studies have found little to no associations.

“The body’s response to stress, through the release of stress hormones like cortisol, can have various effects on the body. Still, the relationship between these effects and cancer is complex and not fully understood,” said Alex Anderson-Kahl, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist based in Columbia, Missouri.

The latest study has now debunked the association, though researchers did see a slight link between smoking-related cancers and those suffering from depression or anxiety.

“While mental health is crucial for overall well-being, many other factors, from genetics to environmental exposures, play a more direct role in determining cancer risk,” further added by Anderson-Kahl.

However, they believe this largely be ignored when other health-related behavior is taken into account.

Experts at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands examined data provided by the international Psychological Factors and Cancer Incidence Consortium (PSY-CA) for their study.

A woman sitting in front of the dock watching the lake and the mountains in the background. The presence of depression or anxiety found no associations linked to breast or prostate cancer. (PAOLA CHAAAYA/UNSPLASHED)

The data combines information from 18 prospective study groups comprising a group of more than 300,000 adults across the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway and Canada.

The study found no associations between depression or anxiety and breast, prostate, colorectal or alcohol-related cancers in follow-ups spanning up to 26 years.

The presence of depression or anxiety was linked, however, with a six percent higher risk of developing lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers.

“There is no significant association between depression or anxiety and the risk of developing most types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, or colorectal. The only exception is a slight increase in the risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers among those with depression or anxiety,” said Dr. LeMeita Smith, a psychological advisor at Tarotoo and a licensed professional counselor.

But this risk was substantially reduced when adjusted for other cancer-related risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and body mass index (BMI).

“There is no significant association between depression or anxiety and the risk of developing most types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, or colorectal,” further added by Dr. Smith. “The only exception is a slight increase in the risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers among those with depression or anxiety.”

The researchers said their study highlighted the importance of addressing tobacco and other such unhealthy behaviors, including those which could develop as a result of depression and anxiety.

Dr. Lonneke van Tuijl, who led the study, recognized that her team’s results may provide relief to those diagnosed with cancer they believed may have been linked to past anxiety or depression.

“Our results may come as a relief to many patients with cancer who believe their diagnosis is attributed to previous anxiety or depression,” she said.

“However, further research is needed to understand exactly how depression, anxiety, health behaviors, and lung cancer are related.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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