Research

PTSD linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer

Women who experienced six or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in life had a twofold greater risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never had any PTSD symptoms, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Moffitt Cancer Center.

The findings indicate that having higher levels of PTSD symptoms, such as being easily startled by ordinary noises or avoiding reminders of the traumatic experience, can be associated with increased risks of ovarian cancer even decades after women experience a traumatic event. The study also found that the link between PTSD and ovarian cancer remained for the most aggressive forms of ovarian cancer.

To better understand how PTSD may influence ovarian cancer risk, researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II (US), which tracked the health of tens of thousands of women between 1989 and 2015 through biennial questionnaires and medical records. Participants were asked about ovarian cancer diagnosis on each questionnaire, and information was validated through a review of medical records.

In 2008, 54,763 Nurses’ Health Study II participants responded to a supplemental questionnaire focused on lifetime traumatic events and symptoms associated with those events. Women were asked to identify the event they considered the most stressful, and the year of this event. They were also asked about seven PTSD symptoms they may have experienced related to the most stressful event. Based on the responses, women were divided into six groups: no trauma exposure; trauma and no PTSD symptoms; trauma and 1-3 symptoms; trauma and 4-5 symptoms; trauma and 6-7 symptoms; and trauma, but PTSD symptoms unknown.

After adjusting for various factors associated with ovarian cancer, including oral contraceptive use and smoking, the researchers found that women who experienced 6-7 symptoms associated with PTSD were at a significantly higher risk for ovarian cancer than women who had never been exposed to trauma. Women with trauma and 4-5 symptoms were also at an elevated risk, but the risk did not reach statistical significance.
Read more: Harvard T.H Chan Media release; Roberta, A, et al: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer: a prospective and retrospective longitudinal cohort study, [AbstractAmerican Association for Cancer Research, DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-1222

Construction workers risk lives by not evacuating immediately

New UK research has found that high-rise construction site workers are “risking their lives” by not responding immediately to evacuation alarms. One in three workers spent more than a minute to finishing a task before heading to an emergency exit, the study found. Once the task was complete, one quarter then did other things, such as collecting tools, before proceeding to an emergency exit.

The researchers from the University of Greenwich also found that two out of five workers required direction from a supervisor to take action, with many believing their employers would view the completion of tasks as more important than an immediate evacuation.
Read more: High-rise construction site workers “risking their lives” by ignoring evacuation alarms.  Construction site evacuation safety: evacuation strategies for tall construction sites, Summary Report [pdf] Full Report [pdf] Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

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