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Got stress? It could impact breast cancer recurrence
Date:9/26/2007

coastal team interviewed 94 women from the San Francisco Bay area and categorized their life experiences as either traumatic or stressful, and compared them with a control group of women who had not faced similar situations. The participants reported traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse, rape, suicide of a family member or life-threatening injury. Stressful events included adoption, parents death, living with their mother-in-law, earthquake, divorce or having a family member imprisoned.

In the three study groups, 39 women reported traumatic events in their history, and median disease-free interval was 2.5 years; for 27 women who had experienced stressful situations, it was 37 months just over three years. And in the final group of 28 women who reported no stress or trauma in their history, the median disease-free interval was 62 months just over five years.

All of the women were diagnosed in their late 40s, and 85 percent of them were white. Demographic analysis showed that 69 percent were married, and 19 of the women in the stressed and traumatic groups were divorced or widowed.

The research also involved analysis of cortisol levels from saliva samples from participants. Cortisol is produced when the body faces periods of stress, and there is growing evidence that abnormally prolonged cortisol production inhibits the bodys immune response. This could potentially make the body more susceptible to recurrence of cancer, Palesh said.

Extended periods of stress and trauma and its resulting cortisol production may interfere with the bodys ability to fight off cancer progression, said Palesh. When there is consistent, long-term stress in the body, the elevated cortisol level may can change the bodys normal rhythms and potentially reduce resistance to tumor growth.


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Contact: Leslie White
leslie_white@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1119
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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