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On-the-Job Stress Won't Raise Your Risk for Cancer, Study Finds
Date:2/7/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The hassles and deadlines at work may leave you frazzled, but they won't raise your risk for cancer, new research suggests.

Despite earlier studies suggesting an association between work stress and cancer, an international team of researchers found that it wasn't linked to colorectal, lung, breast or prostate cancers.

"We already know from other studies that work-related stress is associated with many adverse health outcomes, such as heart disease and depression," said lead researcher Katriina Heikkila, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki.

"Our findings suggest that stress at work is unlikely to be an important cancer risk factor. Though reducing work stress would undoubtedly improve the psychological and physical well-being of the working people, it is unlikely to have a marked impact on cancer," Heikkila said.

Commenting on the new report, Dr. Lidia Schapira, associate editor for psychosocial oncology at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Cancer.Net, said, "I am encouraged that there is now some evidence that uncouples job strain and life stresses from cancer."

People worry a lot when they are under stress, and they then worry that their worrying is going to impact their health, she noted.

"We know stress can affect the body's reactions [and] increase inflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of cancer, so there is good reason to worry," said Schapira, who is also an assistant professor in the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"I think people should address stress just because stress is uncomfortable and impacts on one's wellness and well-being and quality of life," Schapira said. "But good scientists have given it a hard look, and we really can't connect the dots [between] being stressed at work to getting cancer."

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