Anxiety is bad for us: we know that. But it is a killer – or can it save our lives?
A large-scale study has found that men over 40 who suffer from significant levels of anxiety are twice as likely to die from cancer than their female counterparts. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common mental health problem that is associated with an increased risk of suicide and other mental health problems. It affects about 5% of the population. But the male sufferers studied in the research were found to be at greater risk of dying from cancer than the females – or from other men who did not suffer from GAD.
Was this because the men worried about their symptoms in silence? Did women react differently, worrying more about theirs and consequently taking steps to gain reassurance from their doctors? Were there other differences caused by gender-related issues? Or did the anxiety itself cause cancers to develop more frequently in men, and not in women for some reason?
Much more research needs to be undertaken to find out the answers. What is certain is that anxiety, like stress, is bad for our physical health as well as for our emotional and mental wellbeing.
For more details on the study, go to