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Cancer 'not linked' to emotions

23rd October 2007

Researchers in the United States say the power of positive thinking to affect cancer patients' prospects for recovery has been greatly overestimated.

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The recent study led by James Coyne at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who were depressed about having cancer fared no worse than those who stayed positive.

Many people believe that positive thinking can affect the way cancer progresses in the body.

But data pertaining to 1,093 patients with cancer in their head or neck from two sepearate studies, analysed by Coyne and colleagues, showed no link between emotional state and survival rate.

During the course of the studies, 646 of the cancer patients died, but there was nothing to link the emotional state with survival even after allowing for a variety of other factors like gender, type of tumour or state of progression of the disease, according to the study, published in the journal Cancer.

Coyne said in a statement that the hope that people could fight cancer by influencing their emotional state appeared to have been misplaced.

But the team also said that cancer patients could derive all manner of social and emotional benefits from staying positive, for example, through the use of psychotherapy and support groups.

However, the researchers warned that people should not seek out such support in the belief that it would have a positive impact on their disease outcome.

Cancer patient advocates said the good news was that feeling low or worried following a diagnosis of cancer was unlikely to make the disease worse, and that people could stop worrying if they were unable to produce a positive outlook on demand.

However, a positive emotional state was likely to carry benefits for those who survived the disease, according to Jane Maher of Macmillan Cancer Support.

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Comments

Anonymous

Wednesday 31st October 2007 @ 11:44

I just hate the use of 'battle' and win or lose in relation to cancer which is so favored by the media.
It is so insulting to all those people who have died of cancer - it makes them sound like losers.
Why can't they just say 'Living with cancer' or 'died of cancer' instead?


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