A study involving over 60,000 people suggests that people prone to anxiety are more likely to get cancer.

The findings will add to the controversy over whether purely psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression can trigger cancer. Part of the problem with this kind of study is that it is hard to exclude with certainty the influence of behavioural factors, such as lack of self-care, poor diet and smoking.

A team of psychiatrists led by Arnstein Mykletun at the University of Bergen in Norway followed up 62,591 people who took part in a massive medical survey of people living in one county in Norway during 1995 to 1997. The Norway National Cancer Registry was used to identify participants in the survey who had developed cancers or premalignancies – abnormal cells that can turn cancerous.

Those who scored highly in an anxiety test in 1995 were about 25 per cent more likely to have premalignancies
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