Schizophrenia, one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, is a highly complex neuropsychiatric condition. A range of abnormalities, including hallucinations, delusions, cognitive decline, inability to process thoughts coherently, lack of reasoning ability, etc., are caused by schizophrenia. In brief, people suffering from such a complicated disorder are unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Another symptom associated with this condition is the absence of normal behaviors or a woeful lack of interest in anything related to worldly or routine affairs.
Besides the social repercussions, schizophrenia increases the chances of developing a number of chronic diseases due to the prevalence of risk factors like smoking, substance abuse, obesity, lack of exercise, etc. Due to the comorbidity of substance abuse problem like alcoholism, the likelihood of the cells undergoing abnormal mutations or abbreviations to cause cancer is higher.
Surprisingly, previous studies have come out with inconsistent results when it comes to linking cancer with schizophrenia. Furthermore, since the past studies have indicated a lower risk of developing certain types of cancers (such as colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and malignant melanoma), the researchers have widely believed that certain genetic factors acted as a protective wall against cancer. However, a recent research has revealed that the incidence of breast cancer increases in women with schizophrenia compared to those without the mental condition.
Reasons for higher incidence of breast cancer in women with schizophrenia
During the course of the study, the investigators carried out research on around 125,760 women in India and China, and found a close association between schizophrenia and the higher risk for breast cancer compared to the general populace. However, the researchers have been unable to come up with homogenous results due to heterogeneous findings of the studies included probably due to the use of the inaccurate and flawed statistical methods.
Irrespective of the above-mentioned discrepancies, the researchers highlighted some of the prevalent reasons behind the rise of breast cancer in women with schizophrenia:
Obesity: Individuals with any mental condition, such as schizophrenia, depression, etc., are less likely to make an attempt to exercise. They are also more likely to eat junk food and indulge in substance abuse, which in turn increase the risk of abdominal obesity. As such, obesity has strong links with cancer. However, it will be wrong to assume that people with a mental health condition have unhealthy traits and are obese or filthy. Given a supportive environment, love and care, even someone with a neurological condition as complex as schizophrenia will eat healthy and follow a sustainable lifestyle.
Nulliparity: Women who have never given birth have higher risk of succumbing to breast cancer. The process of giving birth causes certain changes in the mammary glands that reduce the threat of developing cancer. The existence of a mental health condition along with the above problem increases the odds stacked against them. However, with timely prognosis, they can also lead fulfilling lives, and have a career and home.
Increased prolactin levels: Prolactin is a hormone that helps women produce milk. The increased levels of plasma prolactin is associated with increased risks of cancer. Several studies suggest that women with schizophrenia, especially those taking antipsychotics, witnessed a significant increase in the secretion of prolactin. This can have adverse implications on women going through schizophrenia.
Happy to help
Despite the current debate linking breast cancer with schizophrenia, even a person with this disorder can lead a sustainable life, have a loving spouse and rear children. Many people with the disorder have lived extremely creative and fulfilling lives. So, the treatment of this condition is not a cause of worry. With suitable lifestyle changes, love and support of family members, regular medications, therapy and counseling, one can lead a normal life.
Sovereign health of Florida, a leading provider of treatment for behavioral problems and substance abuse, provides top-notch treatment for a range of mental disorders. Depending on the severity of the disease, schizophrenia disorder treatment might involve medications, psychotherapy and other experiential therapies. For more information on our residential treatment centers for schizophrenia, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online.
Get the latest news on program developments, behavioral health news and company announcements