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Pain could be indication of cancer risk - doctors

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  • Pain could be indication of cancer risk - doctors

    Pain could be indication of cancer risk - doctors

    LONDON (Reuters) - People suffering from widespread pain lasting at least a day may have a higher risk of dying of cancer, British researchers said Friday.

    They believe the pain may be an early indication of an undetected cancer or could mean a shorter survival period for people who develop the disease.

    "We have shown an association between the report of widespread pain and excess mortality from cancer in the medium and long term," Professor Gary Macfarlane of the University of Manchester said in a report in the British Medical Journal.

    The researchers compared the type and frequency of pain and the causes of death of 6,569 people up to the age of 85 over an eight-year period. Heart disease was the biggest killer in the study group, followed by cancer and respiratory disease.

    Fifteen percent of the volunteers complained of overall pain, slightly less than half had regional pain, and more than one-third had no pain at all.

    People with regional and widespread pain had the highest death rates. Volunteers who reported pain throughout their body were twice as likely to die of cancer.

    "This study has shown that people who report widespread pain have an increased risk of death, mainly from cancer, over the subsequent eight years," Macfarlane added.

    In a commentary on the research in the journal, Professor Iain Crombie of the University of Dundee in Scotland said the findings need to be taken seriously and should be analyzed.

    "If this study's findings are true, then having pain for at least one day can increase the risk of death from cancer by over 20 percent," he said.

    "As the authors state, the association needs to be assessed in other studies and possible mechanisms investigated," Crombie added.

  • #2
    This is an interesting report but one that needs to be carefully evaluated. Since cancer causes pain, one must be careful not to assume that the association is not a bidirectional relationship. I can think of several strong arguments against the conclusion of this study.

    1. I know of many people who have neuropathic pain and I don't think that the incidence of cancer in these people is any higher than the general population. They need to study a population of people with spinal cord injury with and without pain, to assess this possibility.

    2. Pain may be associated with cancer-causing behavior. For example, people with pain take a large number of drugs. On the Cando site, I polled the drugs that people wiith spinal cord injury take. Those people who have pain take an average of nearly twice as many drugs as those without pain. The drugs (and even alternate herbs and other foods) may contribute to an increased incidence of cancer.

    The whole issue of neuropathic pain needs careful and serious investigation.