Originally published December 29 2009
Risk of suicide and heart attacks goes up when men are told they have prostate cancer
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) Imagine you are a man who has just been told you have a disease that might kill you -- prostate cancer. And the treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormones that could rob you of your virility, wreck your sex life and even interfere with your ability to urinate. Sound depressing and even terrifying? To some men, this disturbing news may actually be a lot more dangerous than their prostate cancer. A new study just published in PLoS Medicine has found that men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer have an increased risk of cardiovascular events and suicide -- with the youngest men being the most vulnerable.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and Harvard University used the Swedish Cancer Register to identify 168,584 men 30 years old or older who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1961 and 2004. The research team then turned to Sweden's Causes of Death Register and Inpatient Register to compile information on how many of these men suffered from subsequent fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular events and suicides.
The results showed that prior to 1987, men were approximately 11 times more likely to have a fatal cardiovascular event during the first week after they were told they had prostate cancer than men without the disease. Throughout the first year after their diagnosis, men with prostate cancer were about twice as likely to have a heart attack as men without prostate cancer. After 1987, men diagnosed with prostate cancer were about three times as likely to have a cardiovascular event during the first week as undiagnosed men, and they had a persistent, slightly raised risk in the first year.
Although not many men in the study killed themselves (136 in all), the researchers did find a significant increase in suicides associated with a prostate cancer diagnosis, too. The relative risk of suicide throughout the study period was 8.4 during the first week and 2.6 during the first year after diagnosis.
What's particularly tragic about men literally dying from the consequences of stress after being told they have prostate cancer is that many of them actually should have little to fear -- they just haven't been told the true facts about their disease. Although about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, only one in 35 will actually die from prostate cancer.
What's more, many men who have been told they have prostate cancer probably had unnecessary screening for the disease in the first place (http://www.naturalnews.com/026787_cancer_Pro...). A study in the September 28, 2009, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded there's no convincing scientific evidence that screening prevents deaths from prostate cancer. In fact, when men are found to have early-stage cancers, they are often told treatment is necessary when no treatment may be needed at all. Their cancers may never be life threatening but aggressively treating their disease may lead to a host of health problems and even life threatening complications.
To their credit, the authors of the new study mentioned these issues. "Treatments for prostate cancer (for example, surgical removal of the prostate) may be more effective if they are started early but they can cause impotence and urinary incontinence, so should men be treated whose cancer might otherwise never affect their health?" they wrote. "In addition, receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer is stressful and there is growing evidence that stressful life events can increase an individual's risk of becoming ill or dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular events and of becoming mentally ill."
Fall K, Fang F, Mucci L, Ye W, et al. 2009. "Immediate Risk for Cardiovascular Events and Suicide Following a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis: Prospective Cohort Study." PLoS Med 6(12): e1000197. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000197
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