G. David Batty, PhD, of the University College London, and colleagues reviewed 16 English and Scottish studies that included 163,363 people, aged 16 and older. The people were initially cancer-free and followed for an average of 9.5 years. During that time, there were 4,353 deaths from cancer.
The researchers found that patients with greater levels of psychological distress had higher mortality rates for colorectal, esophageal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers and leukemia. The team said the findings held up even after compensating for factors such as age, sex, education, wealth, body fat, smoking, and alcohol use.
“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 said.
Batty GD, Russ TC, Stamatakis E, Kivimäki M. Psychological distress in relation to site specific cancer mortality: pooling of unpublished data from 16 prospective cohort studies [published online January 25, 2017]. BMJ. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j108