- Anxiety disorders
are fairly common worldwide in both sexes.
- Anxious men show
double the risk of cancer-related deaths.
- No increased risk
of dying from cancer was noted in anxious women.
- Anxiety needs to be
regarded as a serious health risk.
Anxious men have twice the risk of dying from cancer
than normal men. This finding
is the result of a study funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer
Details of The Study
Over a 15 year follow-up period, involving nearly 16000 Britons, it was found that
men with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
were twice as
likely to die of cancer than men who were not affected by anxiety. However, no
such correlation existed in women, and anxious women did not show a greater
risk of dying from cancer.
‘Learn to relax – it will reduce your cancer risk.’
findings were presented by Olivia Remes, a mental health researcher at the
University of Cambridge and lead author of this study at the European College
of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress in Vienna.
remarked, 'In the past there have been inconclusive studies of the relationship
between cancer and anxiety
. However our study is the
largest one to look at this relationship. We found that men with generalised
anxiety disorder are over twice as likely to die of cancer as men without this
condition. This holds true even after taking account of a range of additional
factors, such as age, major chronic diseases, serious mental illnesses,
smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and medications'.
are unable to prove that a direct link exists between anxiety and cancer, but
experts believe that the findings support the widely held belief that the
physical stress caused by
anxiety could weaken the body's immune system, thereby increasing the risk of
the reason for the lack of correlation between anxiety and cancer in women is
David Nutt, of Imperial College London, said the new findings did not surprise
intense distress that these people suffer often on a daily basis is usually
associated with a great deal of bodily stress
that is bound to have a major impact on many
psychological process including immune supervision of cancerous cells," he
Reason For Increased Cancer Risk In Anxious Men
feel that the reasons for the findings of their study may be manifold.
- Women may probably
recognize and seek treatment much earlier for signs and symptoms of anxiety, whereas men delay
seeking therapy or do not go for treatment at all.
- Men may be more
likely to self-medicate or seek refuge in smoking, and alcohol, both of
which are known risk factors for the development of cancer.
- Even if women
developed cancer, they probably sought early treatment, making it easier
to treat and reducing the risk of cancer-related death.
anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and constant worrying that
is difficult to control, and causes serious distress or impairment, occurring
on most days for a minimum of six months.
are different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety
disorder, and social anxiety disorder
disorders are a form of mental illness that may cause intense distress, and
interfere with one's ability to lead a normal productive life.
research on representative samples in the United States has found a
lifetime prevalence of GAD of 5.1 percent to 11.9 percent. A review of
epidemiological studies in Europe revealed a 12-month prevalence of 1.7 to 3.4
percent, and a lifetime prevalence of 4.3 to 5.9 percent.
Symptoms of GAD include:
- Restlessness and
- Becoming easily
concentrating or feeling that the mind goes blank
- Tense and taut
- Inability to
control the worry
- Sleep problems
(difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
research has shown that anxiety disorders may occur due to a variety of
factors such as changes in the brain, genetic factors and environmental stress
treatment options available for anxiety disorders include psychotherapy
or a combination of both.
To Be Learnt From The Findings Of The Study
is predicted that one out of every two people born after 1960 in the UK will be
diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, according to Cancer
feels that anxiety disorders need to be given more importance, and
viewed as a serious health risk by clinicians, policy makers and researchers
globally, given its prevalence and substantial health risks such as cancer
associated with it.
present, anxiety is regarded as a personality disorder
, and treated as such. This should
change and anxiety be considered as
sign of probable ill health in the future.
would be fitting to conclude with Professor Nutt's observation on the
importance that needs to be given to anxiety disorders,
the authors point out other factors such as self-medication with tobacco and
alcohol are also likely to be involved [ in cancer deaths]. I fully support the
authors' statement that much more information and investment need to be given
to the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders'.
following suggestions may help in reducing anxiety and coping with it better.
These can also be employed by people who don't suffer from anxiety, as a
- Seeking professional
help sooner than later
- Finding reasons to
laugh / smile more!!
- Meditation / breathing techniques
- Going for a walk
- Seeking social
support amongst friends and relatives
- Volunteering at
NGO's or other organizations
- Getting enough
sleep and adequate nutrition
- Reducing caffeine
and alcohol consumption
- Having realistic
- Being kind to
oneself and not aiming to be perfect
- Challenging and
quelling anxious and negative thoughts
- Developing skills
and tools to overcome anxious thoughts and situations
- Anxiety Disorders - (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml#part_145335)