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David Baxter

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Low Risk of Prostate Cancer Seen in Men With Schizophrenia
Jan 30, 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- The incidence of prostate cancer among men with schizophrenia is lower than in the general population, according to findings published in the December issue of Urology.

"Lower than expected rates of cancer, in general, have been reported for psychiatric patients for almost a century," writes Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

For his study, the researcher performed a MEDLINE search for all studies of "prostate cancer" or "cancer" or "schizophrenia." A total of five studies had age-standardized, site-specific cancer data, and were included in the analysis.

The standardized incidence ratio for prostate cancer in patients with schizophrenia was lower than expected in all five studies, and ranged from 0.49 to 0.76. The overall rate of cancer at other sites varied among the studies.

Possible explanations for the decreased incidence of prostate cancer include an ascertainment bias, the effect of antipsychotic drugs (either by protecting against cancer or by decreasing testosterone, or both), and genetic factors, Dr. Torrey suggests.

Another possibility could relate to lifestyle differences. Until recent decades, schizophrenia often led to long periods of hospitalization, he notes, "resulting in decreased opportunity for heterosexual intercourse."

The low incidence of prostate cancer in men with schizophrenia "takes its place epidemiologically alongside other unexplained anomalies of prostate cancer incidence, specifically those involving race and geography," Dr. Torrey concludes.

Urology 2006;68:1280-1283.
 

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