No Evidence of Connection Between PTSD and Cancer

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There is no evidence of an association between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and an increased cancer risk, according to a new study from the Boston University School of Medicine.

Researchers from the school compared rates of different cancer diagnoses in people with PTSD with cancer rate amongs the general population using data from the Danish national medical and social registry between 1995 and 2011. PTSD was found not to be associated with an increased risk of cancer, the researchers reported in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

The long study period allowed researchers to examine associations that have not been studied previously as they were able to look at rare cancer outcomes and associations among important subgroups.

“The general public may have a perception that stress contributes to cancer occurrence and given the ubiquity of PTSD and cancer and their costs to individuals and society, any observed associations could have meaningful public health implications,”  lead author Jaimie L. Gradus, DSc, MPH, and assistant professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the medical school and an epidemiologist at the National Center for PTSD, said in a statement.

“This study, however, provided no evidence that a severe chronic stress disorder such as PTSD is associated with cancer incidence.”

PTSD Can Develop Without Memory of Childhood Trauma
Largest study to date finds no evidence of an association between post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer.

In the largest study to date that examines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a risk factor for cancer, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), have shown no evidence of an association.

The study, which appears in the European Journal of Epidemiology, is consistent with other population-based studies that report stressful life events generally are not associated with cancer incidence. In addition to corroborating results of other studies, this large population sample allowed for important stratified analyses that showed no strong evidence of associations even among select groups of the population.

The association between stress and cancer has been discussed in scientific literature for more than 70 years. Despite plausible theories that would support this association, findings from clinical research have been mixed.

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