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Depression affects breast cancer survival, study suggests

A new study suggests that patients overcoming the initial depression from an advanced breast cancer diagnosis will outlive their counterparts who do not, according to Reuters Health.

According to lead researcher Janine Giese-Davis of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, depression can burden the body in numerous ways to aid cancer progression. Decreased immune system function and increasing inflammation can be byproducts of chronic depression.

"When these physiological changes become chronic, we believe that they may deplete the resources of the body, making it more difficult for patients to recover," said Giese-Davis.

The hard data of the study comes from a sample of 100 women with metastatic cancer in the San Francisco Bay area. The results found that half of the women whose depression lightened over the first year lived at least another four-and-a-half years compared to those with worsening depression who lived only two-and-a-half years. Researchers urged patients to talk about their depression or join a support group to improve their overall quality of life.

Over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors currently live in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
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