No Link Between Depression and Cancer
This is important. I wish I could blow up the title of this report and plaster it across my office wall. Better, yet, I would like to hang it in the halls and waiting rooms, so that all of our patients could see it. You did not develop cancer because you were depressed (or angry or stressed or tired). I continue to hear this worry from patients, and it is especially corrosive because if you believe it, you then worry each time you feel badly, and think maybe you are making the cancer worse, and then you feel even worse.
French researchers looked at a large group of middle aged people and their rates of all kinds of cancer as associated with their history of depression. They found nothing. Most studies that find nothing are pretty boring, but this one is the opposite; there is no link between depression and the risk of cancer.
Here is the start of the story from Reuters and then a link to read more:
No link between depression and cancer risk: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Doctors can reassure patients that being depressed does not increase one's risk of cancer,
French researchers say.
In a large group of middle aged French utility workers, the study looked for links between a history of depression and any type of cancer diagnosis.
"We have found nothing, and usually it is not very interesting when researchers have found nothing," said lead author Dr. Cédric Lemogne of Paris Descartes University in France.
"But in this case, it was the point."
The idea that depression might affect cancer risk has been around for decades, and researchers have found evidence for or against it.
At least one study in the 1990s suggested that people who repeatedly experienced depression might double their cancer risk. But that result was never repeated, Lemogne and his colleagues note in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Large analyses that attempt to comb through all available studies on the subject have continued to produce conflicting results.
Still, researchers worry that despite a lack of clear evidence, some cancer patients may blame themselves for somehow causing or worsening their disease by being depressed.
"Many people are convinced when they develop cancer that they know exactly what caused it," said James Coyne, a health psychology professor at University Medical Center in Groningen, the Netherlands.
Coyne was not involved in the French study, but has investigated connections between depression and cancer.
"I get particularly concerned if patients are left with the idea that they can control the course of cancer through psychological training," Coyne told Reuters Health.