Severe PTSD linked to a twofold risk of ovarian cancer

Women who experienced six or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in life have a twofold risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never had any PTSD symptoms. This is the result of a study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Moffitt Cancer Center. [1]

The group used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a 26 years longitudinal cohort study with 54,710 subjects. The research shows that having higher levels of PTSD symptoms can be associated with increased risks of ovarian cancer even decades after women experience a traumatic event. It has been known before that chronic stress accelerates tumour growth in animal models of ovarian cancer.

The authors conclude that better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms could lead to interventions that reduce ovarian cancer risk in women with PTSD and other stress-related mental disorders.

1          Roberts AL, Huang T, Koenen KC, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer: a prospective and retrospective longitudinal cohort study. Cancer Res 2019;:canres.1222.2019. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-1222