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PTSD Does Not Increase Risk of Cancer

PTSD Does Not Increase Risk of Cancer

A large European study finds no evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) increases the risk for cancer.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) say the research is the largest to date to evaluate the relationship. The findings are consistent with other population-based studies that report stressful life events generally are not associated with cancer.

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 study results appear in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

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.

Researchers compared the rate of various cancer diagnoses among people with PTSD with the standardized cancer rate from the general population in the same time period using data from the Danish national medical and social registers. They found PTSD was not associated with an increased risk for cancer.

“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,” explained corresponding author Jaimie L. Gradus, DSc, MPH, an epidemiologist at the National Center for PTSD.

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

Investigators believe the study results are generalizable and apply both to the general population and important subgroups.

The study validity stems from the large sample and long study period that allowed the examination of associations that have not been studied previously — including rare cancer outcomes.

Source: Boston University Medical Center/EurekAlert

PTSD Does Not Increase Risk of Cancer

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). PTSD Does Not Increase Risk of Cancer. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 17 Aug 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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