Cancer in people with depression or anxiety: record-linkage study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007 Sep;42(9):683-9. doi: 10.1007/s00127-007-0211-2. Epub 2007 May 24.


Background: It has been suggested that the risk of cancer may be higher in people with psychological disorders, like depression and anxiety, than in the general population.

Aims: To determine cancer risk in cohorts of people with depression or anxiety, compared with that in a control cohort.

Method: Analysis of linked statistical records of hospital admission and mortality.

Results: Lung cancer was more common in those with depression (risk ratio 1.36, 95% confidence intervals 1.19-1.54) or anxiety (1.29, 1.12-1.48) than in others. Excluding lung cancer, the risk ratio for all other cancers combined was 0.98 (0.92-1.04) in the depression cohort and 1.01 (0.95-1.07) in the anxiety cohort. There was a significant association, in the short-term only, between depression, anxiety and the subsequent diagnosis of brain tumours.

Conclusions: With the exception of lung and brain tumours, cancer risk was not increased in people with depression or anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence