There is no such thing as a “cancer personality” and no evidence that certain types of people are prone to behavior such as smoking that puts them at higher risk, European researchers said on Monday.
Their findings, published in the journal Cancer, join other studies that show having a positive outlook does not help people conquer cancer, either.
The researchers took advantage of large, comprehensive health databases kept in some European countries to determine if various degrees of outgoing or neurotic behavior might, as some folk wisdom holds, put a person at high risk of cancer.
“We found no indication of an association between certain personality traits and risks for cancer, nor did we find support for an indirect association where certain personality traits influence health behavior and thus indirectly affect risk for cancer,” wrote the team at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Some researchers and social scientists have proposed theories that two personality traits in particular, neuroticism and extroversion, may be associated with a higher risk of cancer.
Pernille Hansen and colleague set out to see if this was true by looking at data on 29,595 Swedish twins born between 1926 and 1958 who were followed for an average of 25 years. As part of a wide-reaching study of twins they underwent a battery of tests, including personality tests.
Out of the group, 1,898 people developed cancer. Hansen’s team found no evidence that those with any certain personality trait were more likely to have developed cancer. They even looked for combinations of traits and found no link, they said.