Cancer caregivers, generally in the form of a spouse, do so much for their husband, wife or loved one than anyone can imagine, and it often ends up being a very thankless job with a lot of long hours, little sleep, and lots of stress.
For years, researchers have known that being a cancer caregiver can increase depression levels in these giving people as well as stress and other mental health disorders.
But now a team in Sweden says that on top of all that, caregivers are also risking their own lives.
Jianguang Ji and colleagues at the Centre for Primary Healthcare Research in Sweden looked into the possibility that the stresses of being a caregiver went beyond mental health problems and actually caused physiological ones.
They uncovered a stark reality: using Swedish data bases, they were able to determine that the risk for coronary heart disease, as well as the risk for stroke, increased by anywhere from 13 to 29 per cent in people who served as caregivers for cancer patients.
The researchers concluded that medical or psychiatric intervention is necessary to prevent these serious health problems from developing.
"Previous studies have shown that preventive work can considerably reduce stress and anxiety in close relatives of patients," according to Jianguang Ji. "Our study shows that preventive efforts aimed at reducing psychological stress and negative risk factors are important for people whose life partner has got cancer."
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