Partner With Breast Cancer Ups Risk for Severe Mood Disorder

Male partners of these women have 39 percent higher risk of psychiatric hospitalization
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Male partners of women with breast cancer have a significantly increased risk of an affective disorder severe enough to require hospitalization, and this risk increases with increasing severity of the cancer, according to research published online Sept. 27 in Cancer.

Naoki Nakaya, Ph.D., of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of male partners of women with breast cancer to assess the risk for an affective disorder severe enough to require hospitalization. Over one million Danish men aged 30 years or older with no history of hospitalization for this reason who were living with a female partner for at least five years were included in the study.

Breast cancer was diagnosed in the partners of 20,538 men over the 13-year study period. The researchers found that men with a partner diagnosed with breast cancer were at increased risk for a severe affective disorder requiring hospitalization (hazard ratio, 1.39); a dose-response increase in risk was seen for increases in breast cancer severity. When a partner died of breast cancer, their male partner had a 3.6-fold increased risk of developing an affective disorder compared to the men whose partners survived.

"Such interpersonal effects on health challenge our understanding of cancer as a physical disease, as it can also have important social and psychological effects," the authors write. "We suggest that some sort of screening of the partners of cancer patients in general and of those of breast cancer patients in particular for depressive symptoms might be important for preventing this devastating consequence of cancer."

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