Breast Cancer and Stress in Younger Women
Stress can alter nerves and immunity in an adverse way.
Study Title:Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women
Since 1983, studies have suggested an interaction between the severe life events, psychological distress and the etiology of Cancer. However, these associations are still under dispute.The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and Breast Cancer (BC) among young women. METHODS: A case control study. The study population included 622 women, under the age of 45 years. 255 were diagnosed for BC, and 367 were healthy women. A validated Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and Life Event Questionnaire were used. RESULTS: The cases presented significantly higher scores of depression compared to the controls and significant lower scores of happiness and optimism. A significant difference was found when comparing the groups according to the cumulative number of life events (two or more events). A multivariate analysis suggest that exposure to more than one life event is positively associated with BC [Odds Ratio(OR) :1.62 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.09-2.40], and that a general feeling of happiness and optimism has a “protective effect” on the etiology of BC. (OR-0.75, 95% CI:0.64-0.86). CONCLUSION: Young women who were exposed to a number of life events, should be considered as a risk group for BC and treated accordingly.
From press release:
Women exposed to negative life events at greater risk of breast cancer: BGU study
BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, August 22, 2008—Happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease, according to a study by Professor Ronit Peled, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. An article on the study titled “Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women,” was just published in the British journal BMC Cancer (8:245, August 2008).
In the study, researchers questioned women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis. Researchers used this information to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and breast cancer among young women.
A total of 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 were interviewed: 255 breast cancer patients and 367 healthy women. “The results showed a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease. Conversely, women who suffered two or more traumatic events had a 62 percent greater risk,” Peled said. “Young women who have been exposed to a number of negative life events should be considered an ‘at-risk’ group for breast cancer and should be treated accordingly.”
The researchers indicate that women were interviewed after their diagnosis, which may color their recall of their past emotional state somewhat negatively. However, according to Peled, “We can carefully say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event is a risk factor for breast cancer among young women. On the other hand, a general feeling of happiness and optimism can play a protective role.” “The mechanism in which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behaviour and external events modulate these three systems is not fully understood,” Peled states. “The relationship between happiness and health should be examined in future studies and relevant preventative initiatives should be developed.”
Peled R, Carmil D, Siboni-Samocha O, Shoham-Vardi I. Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women BMC Cancer. 2008 August 8(1):245.
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