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People with psychiatric illnesses may be prone to cancer

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered that individuals who have serious psychiatric illnesses may be more likely to develop cancer than people in the general population. These findings suggest that patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may benefit from a lab test for cancer markers.

"The increased risk is definitely there, but we're not entirely sure why," said study leader Gail Daumit, M.D., M.H.S. "Are these people getting screened? Are they being treated? Something's going on."

In order to investigate, Daumit and her colleagues reviewed the medical records of more than 3,300 Maryland Medicaid beneficiaries who had schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Compared to people in the general population, these patients were 4.5 times, 3.5 times and almost 3 times more likely to develop cancer of the lungs, colorectal region and breast, respectively.

The reasons for these relationships are not entirely clear. Daumit speculates that having serious psychiatric conditions, such as the ones in this study, may increase the likelihood of unhealthy lifestyles, including smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. Furthermore, the risk of breast cancer can be compounded by certain psychotropic medications and a lack of childbearing.

Individuals who are coping with conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and are worried about their risk of cancer may want to consider taking a lab test for cancer markers.ADNFCR-2248-ID-800822919-ADNFCR

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