Personality and colorectal cancer: the Fukuoka colorectal cancer study

Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2008 Aug;38(8):553-61. doi: 10.1093/jjco/hyn067. Epub 2008 Jul 30.


Objective: Although personality factors, especially emotional suppression and loss-hopelessness, have been linked to the occurrence and progression of cancer, little is reported specifically on colorectal cancer. It has also been claimed that a 'hysterical' personality characterized by exaggerated emotional expressions, egocentricity and ambivalent connection may be protective from cancer. This community-based case-control study examined whether personality factors relevant to emotional suppression or loss-hopelessness are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, and whether factors related to the hysterical personality are associated with a decreased risk.

Methods: The stress inventory (SI), a self-administered questionnaire to assess the possible disease-prone and other relevant personalities in Japanese, was completed by 497 patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer and 809 controls randomly selected in the Fukuoka area of Japan.

Results: After controlling for age, sex and residence using a logistic regression model, none of the SI scales relevant to emotional suppression ('unfulfilled needs for acceptance', 'altruism', 'rationalizing conflicts/frustrations') or loss-hopelessness ('low sense of control', 'object-dependence/loss', 'object-dependence/happiness') was related to colorectal cancer. On the other hand, two scales representing elements of the hysterical personality, 'object-dependence/ambivalence' and 'egoism' were protectively associated with risk. Additional adjustment for body-mass index and lifestyle factors did not materially change these associations.

Conclusions: Although personalities relevant to the emotional suppression or loss-hopelessness may not be a risk factor for colorectal cancer in the Japanese population, ambivalent connection and egocentricity may be protective.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / mortality
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate