Objectives: While emerging evidence supports a possible link between depression and ovarian cancer progression, no prospective studies have explored the association with ovarian cancer risk.
Methods: We prospectively followed 77,451 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1992-2010) and 106,452 women from the Nurses' Health Study II (1993-2011). Depression was defined as having one or more of the following: a 5-item Mental Health Index (MHI-5) score≤52, antidepressant use, or physician-diagnosed depression. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between depression and incident ovarian cancer.
Results: We documented 698 incident cases of epithelial ovarian cancer during follow-up. In multivariable analyses, depression assessed 2-4years before cancer diagnosis was associated with a modestly higher incidence of ovarian cancer (HR=1.30, 95% CI 1.05-1.60). Compared to women with persistent negative depression status, the adjusted HRs were 1.34 (95% CI 1.01-1.76) for women with persistent positive depression status and 1.28 (95% CI 0.88-1.85) for women with worsening depression status over follow-up. The association did not appear to vary by ovarian cancer risk factors or tumor characteristics.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that depression may be associated with a modestly increased risk of ovarian cancer. Given the relatively high prevalence of depression in women, future work in larger prospective human studies is needed to confirm our results.
Keywords: Chronic stress; Depression; Etiology; Latency period; Ovarian cancer; Repeated measures.
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