Chronic Pain, Cancer & Premature Death! Is there an association?
In the past decade, a few studies have looked at whether persons with chronic widespread pain or fibromyalgia have an increased risk of cancer and/or dying prematurely.
Although there are some studies that have shown some association, the researchers suggest that neither clinicians nor patients should overreact to these findings.
If there is an increased mortality risk, it is of the order of a 30% excess. It may be related to the lifestyle of patients with these symptoms,including lack of physical exercise.
Although there is no simple answer, one author (Morrell P 2002) proposes that chronic pain and illness may make individuals susceptible to cancer in delicate ways. He states that cancer may be viewed as a “civil war of the cells”, therefore subtle changes in self-worth, value, or stress may tip the balance in this conflict.
The question remains, is it the actual chronic pain that predisposes individuals to cancer and premature death or the possibility that complicated lifestyle and psychological factors are all in effect?
Several studies have shown that poor self-rated health is a very powerful predictor of mortality, even when the researchers control for the presence of life-threatening disease. Considering the fact that the existence of chronic pain is a strong predictor of poor self-rated health, it is not very surprising to have studies demonstrate the association of widespread chronic pain and mortality.
Posted on: March 19, 2006
Categories: Fascinating Pain Studies