Partners of breastcancer sufferers in mental health risk

MEN whose partners have breast cancer are more likely to be taken to hospital with mental health problems than other men, according to a new study.

Researchers followed more than a million men and found those whose long-term partners were diagnosed with breast cancer were more than a third (39%) more likely than those whose partner did not have the disease to suffer an affective disorder so severe that they needed hospital care.

Affective disorders included major depression and bipolar disease.

Researchers reviewed data from 1,162,596 men aged 30 or older in Denmark who had no history of hospital treatment for an affective disorder and had lived continuously with the same partner for at least five years.

Breast cancer was diagnosed in the partners of 20,538 men during 13 years of follow-up and 180 of those men suffered a mental health problem so severe it required hospital treatment.

Researchers also found that men whose partners had severe cases of breast cancer were more likely to be taken to hospital than those whose partners were less seriously ill.

Serious mental health problems were also more likely in men whose partners suffered a relapse than in those whose partner remained cancer-free.

Men whose partners died after breast cancer were more than three times as likely to develop an affective disorder than men whose partners survived.

The study was led by Christoffer Johansen of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, who said: “A diagnosis of breast cancer not only affects the life of the patient but may also seriously affect the partner.


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