There is no evidence of an association between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cancer risk, according to a study published last month in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

“The general public may have a perception that stress contributes to cancer occurrence and given the ubiquity of PTSD and cancer and their costs to individuals and society, any observed associations could have meaningful public health implications,” said lead author Jaimie L. Gradus, DSc, MPH, assistant professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), in Boston, MA, and an epidemiologist at the National Center for PTSD. 

“This study, however, provided no evidence that a severe chronic stress disorder such as PTSD is associated with cancer incidence” he said.

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For the study, researchers from BUSM sought to determine whether there is a link between PTSD and various cancer outcomes. They analyzed data from a Danish nationwide cohort study and found that there were 4,131 cases of PTSD.

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Results showed that there was not a higher incidence of various cancer diagnoses among people with PTSD compared with those without PTSD.

Previous laboratory studies and clinical research had suggested that there may be an association between stress and cancer, but the findings from this retrospective study demonstrate no such link.


  1. Gradus JL, Farkas DK, Svensson E, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder and cancer risk: a nationwide cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2015;30(7):563-568.