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Cancer Diagnoses Linked To Increased Heart Attack And Suicide Rates

4/6/2012 2:35 PM ET

A cooperative study from researchers in the US, Sweden, Iceland and Canada discovered the risk of heart attack and suicide are more likely after a patient receives a cancer diagnosis.

According to researcher Unnur Valdimarsdottir, PhD, of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, a cancer diagnosis can bring a significant increase in stress level, leading to cardiac events and depression.

"Just as war and natural disasters have been linked to deadly cardiovascular events and suicide, a diagnosis of cancer is a major life stressor," Valdimarsdottir told WebMD.

The research team examined 6,073,240 people in Sweden between 1991 and 2006. Those who were diagnosed with cancer during that period were 12.6 percent more likely to commit suicide and 5.6 percent more likely to experience a cardiac event.

"This is especially true for patients with a history of psychiatric illness or established heart disease," Ryan Bruno, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told WebMD.

"Often the oncology team is focused on the cancer alone and the psychological needs of the patient may not be addressed."

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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