Men suffering from anxiety disorder are more likely to die from cancer than men who do not face anxiety-related distress.

Although anxiety disorder is considered a personality trait, researchers involved in the study concluded that the disorder may be a link to serious health risks. The condition affects more than 40 million adults in the United States. 

The study presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacoly’s Congress in Vienna Tuesday tracked 15,938 Britons over 40 years old for 15 years. Researchers found that men with generalized anxiety disorder – extreme or excessive feelings of worry or fear – were 2.15 times as likely to die from cancer compared with men who were not diagnosed. There were no increases in the likelihood of developing and dying from cancer in women with the condition.

The study’s authors, who hail from Cambridge University’s Institute of Public Health, noted that the research doesn’t necessarily show anxiety’s relation to cancer nor indicate anxiety causes cancer but, more so, links men struggling with generalized anxiety disorder to behaviors that may increase their chances of dying from cancer. Moving forward, the researchers suggested more studies should be performed to track the connection between mental and physical health in men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 300,000 men die from cancer in the U.S. each year. While no research has proven stress and anxiety cause cancer, they can bring about higher rates of systemic inflammation that can trigger cancer-causing agents in the body. The National Institute of Cancer suggests that people suffering from anxiety can develop behaviors that can lead to cancer, like smoking and drinking alcohol.