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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.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol

Publication Date





683 - 689


Adult, Aged, Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorder, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Incidence, Male, Medical Records, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Patient Admission, Prevalence