Chronic Anxiety and Depression Significantly Increase the Risk of Early Death




 

A large new study suggests that chronic anxiety and depression are associated with a higher risk of premature death than was previously appreciated.


 

 

CHRONIC ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE RISK OF EARLY DEATH

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, most previous research studies have suggested only rather weak links between chronic stress and cancer risk, although there is some data linking chronic depression with breast cancer risk.  However, in view of the increasing number of people around the world who are currently experiencing chronic anxiety and depression during these economically and geopolitically troubled times, the findings of a new public health study that psychological distress significantly increases the risk of premature death from serious illnesses, including cancer, is concerning.  This new study appears in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.

Altogether, 68,222 adults in Great Britain were followed for an average of more than 8 years within the prospectively conducted Health Survey for England study.  All of these study participants were clinically free of serious physical illness when they first joined this very large public health study.  All of the participants in this study were assessed for psychological stress using a validated assessment questionnaire, which was administered in their homes by research staff.  Subsequently, the incidence of serious physical illnesses during the course of this study was then correlated with the degree of measured psychological distress.  The rather dramatic findings of this large prospective public health study illustrate the magnitude of the impact of chronic, severe stress on our bodies, including the risk of premature death due to stress-associated physical illnesses.

After adjusting for preexisting serious physical illnesses, lifestyle-associated risk factors for serious illnesses, and socioeconomic factors known to be linked to chronic, serious illnesses, this study still identified a highly significant increase in the risk of premature death associated with the extent of psychological distress among volunteers in this very large study.  When the “psychological distress score” was compared with death rates, having a score of 1 to 3 (compared to a score of “0,” which reflects no evidence of psychological distress) was associated with a 20 percent increase in the risk of premature death.  A psychological stress score of 4 to 6 was associated with a 43 percent increase in the risk of early death, while a distress score of 7 to 12 was associated with a whopping 94 percent increase in the risk of premature death when compared to study volunteers who were without evidence of any significant psychological distress!

Upon further analysis, death due to cardiovascular disease and other non-cancer causes increased significantly, and proportionally, with each increase in the psychological distress score.  Cancer-associated deaths also increased with rising psychological distress scores, although this association was only observed among volunteers with significantly elevated distress scores.  However, for non-cancer causes of death, the risk of premature death was significantly elevated with evenmild increases in psychological distress.

The potential impact of this study’s findings are highly significant, as they not only reveal a “dose-dependent” relationship between stress levels and the risk of premature death from serious physical illnesses, but the sheer magnitude of the impact of high levels of chronic anxiety and depression on the risk of premature death is much higher, potentially, than has been observed in previous and much smaller studies.

Although this study was not designed to identify the biological mechanisms whereby prolonged periods of increased psychological distress lead to early death, numerous prior studies have shown that chronic depression and anxiety can directly activate an inflammatory response in humans which, in turn, is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, infection, and cancer, as well as other chronic, serious illnesses.  It is also well known that chronic anxiety and chronic depression increase the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors that have also been linked to serious, chronic illnesses, including smoking, excess alcohol or other drug intake, unhealthy diets, and lack of exercise, in addition to other unhealthy behaviors.  What is especially unique about this new study (other than its sheer size), however, is that the researchers were able to identify and adjust for preexisting unhealthy behaviors among the study’s volunteers when they analyzed the study’s data, which increases the likelihood that the adverse effects of chronic anxiety and depression on the risk of premature death observed in this research study are actually a direct result of psychological distress rather than unhealthy lifestyle choices.

If you are experiencing high levels of chronic stress, and if you are frequently anxious or depressed, then please seek help from your personal physician or a mental health professional.  If you are thinking of harming yourself, or someone else, then please seek immediate help.  These are very trying times for many people, and the ongoing worldwide challenges that have provoked such high levels of stress do not appear likely to disappear any time soon.  Knowing that so many other people around the world are also feeling worried and chronically stressed can make each of us feel less alone in our distress.  However, sometimes the awareness that others are experiencing similar levels of distress is, by itself, not enough to ease our anxiety or depression.  So, if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, and especially if you are feeling alone and isolated at the same time, then please seek the help and support of others.  In the vast majority of cases, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness will eventually pass when you get help and support during dark times in your life.


 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 




Bookmark and Share





































Post to Twitter

Saturated Fat, Trans-Fats, and Premature Death in Breast Cancer Survivors

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”



SATURATED FAT, TRANS-FATS, AND

PREMATURE DEATH IN BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS

As I discuss in detail in my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” obesity and increased dietary fat intake have both been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer and other types of cancer.  Moreover, obesity and lack of exercise have also been clearly associated with an increased risk of recurrent breast cancer, and death due to breast cancer, among women who have previously been diagnosed with this common form of cancer.  However, the impact of diet, alone, on the risk of premature death among women previously diagnosed with breast cancer, has not been well studied.

However, a newly published clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Breast Cancer Research & Treatment, strongly suggests that unhealthy dietary habits may significantly increase the risk of death in women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In this prospectively conducted study, 4,441 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1987 and 1999 were followed for an average of 7 years, and were evaluated using a previously validated 126-item food frequency questionnaire that was administered immediately following the diagnosis of breast cancer.  The clinical outcomes of these 4,441 women were then adjusted for other known risk factors for breast cancer recurrence, including age at breast cancer diagnosis, menopausal status, smoking history, stage of breast cancer at diagnosis, alcohol intake history, prior use of hormone replacement therapy, obesity, and exercise history.  After these other known breast cancer recurrence factors were adjusted for, the impact of diet on death due to breast cancer recurrence, as well as death due to any cause, was then calculated.

When compared to women with the lowest average dietary intake of saturated fat, breast cancer survivors with the highest levels of intake of these unhealthy fats were 41 percent more likely to die from any cause during the course of this study.  Similarly, a high level of trans-fat intake was associated with a whopping 78 percent increase in the risk of death from any cause.  (While it failed to reach statistical significance in this relatively small prospective clinical study, an increased risk of death due to breast cancer recurrence was also associated with increasing levels of saturated fat and trans-fat intake, as well.)

 

In summary, this study of more than 4,000 breast cancer survivors revealed a striking increase in the risk of premature death among women who consumed large amounts of saturated fat and trans-fats in their diet.  Importantly, this increased risk of premature death was not limited to death caused by breast cancer recurrence, alone, but from multiple different causes of death.  Regarding the link between the intake of unhealthy fats and death due specifically to breast cancer recurrence, the same disturbing trend was observed, although this particular association did not quite reach accepted standards of statistical significance.  (A larger version of this study will, therefore, be necessary to tease out the relationship between unhealthy dietary fats and death due to breast cancer recurrence, specifically; although the findings of this relatively small prospective clinical study are suggestive that such a link likely exists.)

 

For a complete discussion of the impact of diet, including dietary fats, on cancer risk, and the role of diet and healthy fats in cancer prevention, as well as other important evidence-based approaches to cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

 

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books!  On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list! 



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:   Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





 

Bookmark and Share



 

Post to Twitter

Better Tag Cloud