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Depression, Fatigue Not Tied To Cancer Risk


New Member
Nov 10, 2004
Findings from a large study provide no support for the notion that symptoms of depression and fatigue, as measured by the so-called "vital exhaustion" questionnaire, increase the risk of cancer.

"Depressive mood and depression are among the psychological factors most widely implicated in cancer," the investigators point out in the medical journal Cancer. The thinking is based on "the hypothesis that depression lowers immune function, thus increasing vulnerability to cancer."

The influence on health of vital exhaustion -- feelings of excessive tiredness and lack of energy, increased irritability, and a feeling of demoralization -- was first recognized in heart disease patients, when it was seen that heart attacks were often preceded by feelings of decreased energy, general malaise and minor depression.

Dr. Corinna Bergelt from the Danish Cancer Society's Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen and colleagues investigated vital exhaustion as a risk factor for cancer in 8527 participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study.

During an average of 8-1/2 years of followup, 976 subjects (12 percent) were diagnosed cancer.

Responses to the vital exhaustion questionnaire suggest that while the condition is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle -- cigarette smoking and low levels of exercise -- it is not in itself associated with an increased incidence of cancer, the investigators report.

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