LIFESTYLE

Anxiety And Depression May Increase Risk Of Death From Liver Disease, Study Finds

20/05/2015 10:23 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:59 BST

People who suffer from anxiety or depression may have an increased risk of death from liver disease, according to a new study.

The study is said to be the first to identify a possible link between high levels of psychological distress and deaths resulting from a variety of liver diseases.

But researchers say reasons for this are unclear as the biological links between psychological distress and liver disease are not well understood.

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Researchers at the University of Edinburgh investigated responses to a questionnaire capturing psychological distress in more than 165,000 people.

They then tracked participants' progress over a 10-year period, examining who died and the causes of death.

The team found that individuals who scored highly for symptoms of psychological distress were more likely to die later from liver disease than those with lower scores.

The study took into account factors such as alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and socioeconomic status.

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Dr Tom Russ, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, who led the research, said: "This study provides further evidence for the important links between mind and body, and of the damaging effects psychological distress can have on physical wellbeing.

"While we are not able to confirm direct cause and effect, this study does provide evidence that requires further consideration in future studies."

Previous research suggests that mental distress can put people at increased risk of heart disease.

At the same time, risk factors for cardiovascular disease - such as obesity and raised blood pressure - have been linked to a common form of liver disease, known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The team suggested that, in a similar way, suffering from anxiety and depression may be indirectly linked to an increased risk of death from liver disease.

The study is published in the journal Gastroenterology.

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