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March 10, 2008

Severe Psychological Stress May Be Linked To Breast Cancer

Topics: Medicine

Researchers have long suggested that being under stress greatly increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. Examples of stressful situations women encounter that have been suggested as possibly contributing to cancer-contributing stress levels include tension, fear, anxiety, or sleep disturbances related to family or work problems. Such stress effectors are likely best described as "moderate."

Now, for the first time, Research findings from a Queen's University study have uncovered a possible biological link between severe psychological stress and an increased risk of developing breast cancer: Via ScienceDaily

The study, led by biochemist Christopher Mueller, found that the stress hormone hydrocortisone may repress the activity of a tumour-suppressing gene known as BRCA1 that is related to breast cancer.

Previous population studies have shown a relationship between the experience of intense psychological stress, such as that associated with the loss of a spouse or loved one, and an elevation in breast cancer risk. However, this is the first time a breast specific biological basis for this link has been proposed.

"The results of this particular study are very exciting," says Dr. Mueller. "This provides a strong incentive to rethink treatment strategies."

Published recently in the journal Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer, Dr. Mueller sees strong potential to build upon these findings and identify opportunities for clinical interventions to reduce or manage stress-related breast cancer risk. However, more research must be completed to confirm the effects of hydrocortisone on human breast tissue

More ...

The results of this new study appear to be in agreement with a 2004 study conducted to determine whether psychological stress, in the form of past life events and stress at work, was associated with the development of breast cancer. The results of the 2004 study suggested an association between major life events and breast cancer.

After adjustment for age and other potential confounders, the researchers found that women with major life events, stress of daily activity, and depression had 3.7 times higher risk for breast cancer, compared to those which did not experience such stress. Women who reported experience of stress at work had a nonsignificant 16% higher risk for breast cancer compared with those who reported no stress. A higher proportion of cases (89.1%) than controls (71.1%) reported that their job was stressful, very fretful or very responsible or experienced a major life event.

Related reading:
Stress And Fear Can Affect Cancer's Recurrence:

A scientist shows that mind may indeed affect matter. After the surgical removal of a malignant tumor, the chance that cancer will re-appear in a different location of the body remains high. But new research from Tel Aviv University, in a bold new field called Psychoneuroimmunology, may prevent those cancer cells from taking root again -- and the key to the treatment is stress reduction.
Suggested reading: Psychological Stress and Cancer

Previously posted at New Hope Blog

Posted by Richard at March 10, 2008 2:25 PM

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