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Anxiety and Cancer Link for Men

Anxiety and Cancer Link for Men

In one episode of The Office, “Stress Relief,” boss Michael (Steve Carell) decides to subject himself to an office-wide roast to relieve his employees’ stress after Stanley (Leslie David Baker) has a heart attack during a fire-drill-gone-dreadfully-wrong.

But heart health isn’t the only risk from chronic stress. A study presented at a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology looked at data on nearly 16,000 people over a 15-year period and found men with general anxiety disorder or GAD (a condition characterized by restlessness, trouble concentrating and sleeping, irritability, and muscle tension) have more than double the risk of dying from cancer compared to those without GAD. Interestingly, the correlation didn’t show up in women with GAD, even though they’re twice as likely to be diagnosed with it.  

But trouble moderating a chronic stress response isn’t limited to folks with GAD—and the health repercussions aren’t limited to those with GAD either. About 33 percent of Americans say they experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety daily or that they’ve had an anxiety or panic attack—and 70 percent of those folks have trouble sleeping.  

Clearly, if you frequently feel stressed, it’s smart to reduce any negative impact it has on your cardiovascular and immune systems! We recommend 15 minutes of mindful meditation and a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercises, like interval walking or biking, daily. And if you find you can’t manage your anxiety on your own, talk to your doc. It could help save your life.

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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