There has been much speculation as to whether a link exists between depression and an increased risk of cancer. Those links have been the subject of a new study conducted by Cedric Lemogne, a member of the team headed by Marie Zins (INSERM’s Mixed Research Unit 1018, Epidemiology and Population Health Research Centre, AP-HP, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin). The results of this study will be published in The American Journal of Epidemiology.
During this study, data collected from 14,203 participants between 1994 and 2009 was analyzed to see if depression was linked to an increased risk of developing cancer. What they found was that there was no significant link between depression symptoms and the participants developing cancer later.
With so many patients developing cancer in France, many scientists have tried to figure out if a painful history was linked to the onset of newly diagnosed cancer.
“Received ideas often become ingrained,” explains Cédric Lemogne, a psychiatrist at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital (AP-HP), who works in Professor Consoli’s unit (Université Paris Descartes). “Ever since Hippocrates and the beginnings of medicine, the presence of ‘black bile’ which gave rise to the term ‘melancholia’ or ‘melancholy,’ has meant that people have associated the condition with the development of malign tumors. Today, there are certain claims in circulation that depression could be a risk factor in cancer.”
Numerous studies have linked the two conditions, but none of those studies has been confirmed or fully rejected. The INSERM researchers decided to delve deeper into the question with this larger study. Many researchers previously assumed that the depression was a result of the diagnoses and not the other way around. Antidepressants being used now — like Paxil, Effexor — have proven to be very dangerous to use, and are also highly addictive. Drugs like Paxil and Effexor are part of a class of drug called SSRIs which affect the brain’s serotonin levels, which are related directly to the brain’s mood. Paxil has been linked to serious side effects, including violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior, birth defects and gastrointestinal bleeding.