OBJECTIVE: We aim to assess the relationship between stress and risk of primary colorectal cancer in men and women. DESIGN: A prospective cohort study. SETTING: The Copenhagen City Heart Study, Denmark. SUBJECTS: A total of 6488 women and 5426 men were included in the study. The participants were asked about intensity and frequency of stress at baseline in 1981-1983 and were followed until the end of 2000 in the Danish Cancer Registry. Less than 0.1% was lost to follow-up. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: First time incidence of primary colorectal cancer. RESULTS: During follow-up 162 women and 166 men were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Women with moderate and high stress intensity had a hazard ratio of 0.60 (95% CI: 0.37-0.98) and 0.52 (0.23-1.14) for colorectal cancer, respectively, compared to women with no stress. For colon cancer, a one-unit increase on a seven-point stress-score was associated with an 11% lower incidence of the disease (HR = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.81-0.99) amongst women. There was no consistent evidence of an association between stress and colorectal cancer in men. CONCLUSION: Perceived stress was associated with lower risk of particularly colon cancer in women, whilst there was no clear relationship between stress and colorectal cancer in men.
Keywords: Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Cohort Studies; Colorectal Neoplasms; Denmark; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Proportional Hazards Models; Prospective Studies; Stress, Psychological