October 22, 2007 / 4:36 AM / in 10 years

Emotions do not affect cancer survival: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who are depressed about their cancer are no more likely to die than people who keep a positive outlook, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Cancer patients are often encouraged to stay as happy as possible and many people believe that a positive outlook helps recovery and survival.

Dr. James Coyne and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania set out to see if this was really true. They analyzed data from two studies of the emotional states of 1,093 patients with head and neck cancer.

Over the time of the two studies, 646 patients died.

The analysis showed that emotional status was not associated with survival rate. A person’s emotions were not associated with survival even after taking into account other factors, such as gender, tumor site or disease stage, Coyne and colleagues report in the journal Cancer.

“The hope that we can fight cancer by influencing emotional states appears to have been misplaced,” Coyne said in a statement.

“If cancer patients want psychotherapy or to be in a support group, they should be given the opportunity to do so. There can be lots of emotional and social benefits. But they should not seek such experiences solely on the expectation that they are extending their lives.”

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