By Alice Park
A person’s mood may affect how well their cancer treatment works, suggests new research from China. In a report presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology Asia, researchers led by Yufeng Wu, from the Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Zhengzhou University in China, found that cancer patients who were more depressed showed worse response to chemotherapy than those without depression.
Previous studies have found that people with certain mood disorders show lower blood levels of a compound called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is involved in helping nerves in the brain grow and mature. (How BDNF is related to these mental illnesses is an area of active research.) Because so many people with cancer also have depression, Wu wanted to see if the BDNF levels were important in cancer. He measured BDNF levels of 186 people recently diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, who also answered questions about their mood.