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Stress increases breast cancer risk

Stress increases breast cancer risk
27th September 2007

Stress levels affect breast cancer recurrence, new research has revealed.

Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center and Stanford University School of Medicine found that women who experienced physical or sexual abuse or life-threatening situations see metastatic tumours return after around 2.5 years. For women who do not experience such stressful events, cancer recurred at about five years.

Stressful events considered included adoption, parental death, living with one's mother-in-law, earthquake, divorce or having a family member imprisoned.

Lead author Dr Oxana Palesh said: "Extended periods of stress and trauma and its resulting cortisol production may interfere with the body’s ability to fight off cancer progression.

"When there is consistent, long-term stress in the body, the elevated cortisol level may can change the body’s normal rhythms and potentially reduce resistance to tumor growth."

A body of research shows that stress can alter the immune system's function and thus impact breast cancer progression.

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