PTSD from terrorist attacks and other traumatic events has been associated with an increased heart disease and cancer risk in a new study.
The new study in the Journal of Neuroscience Research assessed eighty four individuals diagnosed with PTSD to investigate the association with heart disease and cancer risk. Thirty four of the individuals diagnosed with PTSD were victims of terrorist attacks, while forty five were victims of other traumatic events.
The paper said: “No study [has] investigated whether the presence of specific medical comorbidities is associated with the type of traumatic event, in particular with terrorist attack (TA).”
The effects of PTSD on heart disease and cancer risk
The males studied were more likely to have circulatory and metabolic complications. The female individuals had a higher prevalence of benign and malignant cancers.
A longer duration of PTSD was associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. The co-author Dr. Andrea Pozza, of the Santa Maria alle Scotte University Hospital, in Italy, said: “Longer untreated PTSD was associated with higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease regardless of the event type: this suggests the importance of early intervention for PTSD and also education programs for the general population to make people aware about PTSD early warning signs and how to recognize them.”
Why do victims of terrorist attacks have a higher cancer risk?
Terrorist victims may have an increased risk of cancer compared to victims of other traumatic events with PRSD. Pozza added: “An explanation of why victims of terrorism may have a higher cancer prevalence than victims of other traumatic events, such as accidents, may be the intentional infliction of harm on the victim causing a more dysregulated stress response. A challenge for the future is monitoring the physical health of victims over time and understanding psychological and neurobiological processes producing this effect.”