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Psychosom Med. 1987 Sep-Oct;49(5):435-49.

Personality and risk of cancer: 20-year follow-up of the Western Electric Study.

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  • 1Epidemiology/Biometry Program, School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago 60680.


Psychologic depression as measured by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) in a cohort of 2018 middle-aged men employed at the Western Electric Company in 1957-1958 was positively associated with 20-year incidence and mortality from cancer. The association with incidence was apparent only during the first 10 years of follow-up, but the association with mortality was observed for the full 20 years of follow-up. The association persisted after adjustment for age, number of cigarettes smoked, alcohol intake, occupational status, family history of cancer, body mass index, and serum cholesterol. The association did not appear to be stronger for one type of cancer than another, but the power of this study to detect differences among types of cancer was limited by small numbers. However, the association did appear to be stronger with risk of fatal cancer than with total incidence. No association was noted between other variables measured by the MMPI or Cattell 16 Personality Factor Inventory and subsequent incidence or mortality from cancer. Specifically, the data did not support the hypothesis that psychologic repression, as measured by Welsh R scale in the MMPI, would be associated with risk of cancer. These results are consistent with previously reported results that have suggested that psychologic depression might promote the development and spread of malignant neoplasms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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