People who have long spells of sick leave for psychiatric reasons are twice as likely to die from cancer as healthier employees, research suggests.
The "unexpected" finding could help pick out at-risk groups, the University College London researchers reported in the British Medical Journal.
Among 6,500 civil servants, those who had taken a long period of sick leave had a 66% higher risk of early death. The cancer risk may be due to depressed people not seeing a doctor soon enough. Sickness records were assessed from London-based employees in 20 Whitehall departments between 1985 and 1988 and compared with mortality up until 2004. Overall 288 people died during the study.
The 30% of people who had one or more stints of at least seven days off work had a 66% increased risk of premature death compared to those who had not had any long periods of sick leave, it was found.
The highest mortality risk was seen in those who had been off work with heart disease, stroke or related conditions who had more than four times the risk of premature death than those who had no long sickness absences.
Perhaps more surprisingly, absences due to common respiratory conditions and infections were also associated with an increased risk of death, the researchers said.
Source - BBC