By: Shelagh McNally for Uterus1
Stressed out over your stress? Well, relax. A study published in the September issue of the British Medical Journal suggests that stress does not cause breast cancer and certain types of stress may actually help prevent it.
|Breast cancer facts from the National Breast Cancer Foundation:|
In 2005 182,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (one every 3 minutes)
This year 43,300 women will die (one every 12 minutes)
A report from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that about 1 in 8 women in the United States (approximately 12.6 percent) will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
Most women who develop breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer.
More than 20% of breast cancer is diagnosed in women under the age of 50.
70% of women with breast cancer have no known risk factor
Early detection is the key to survival and more treatment options.
Researchers from the National Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, Denmark drew their conclusion after studying 6,689 women over a period of 18 years. Women participating in the study were asked to first identify their type of stress (anxiety, sleeplessness, nervousness, impatience or tension) and then classify it as low, medium or high. Other factors were taken into consideration including whether the women were menopausal or had children.
Researchers found that women reporting high stress levels were 40 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who reported having low levels of stress. Only 251 women participating in the study developed breast cancer. The study further found that for every increased level of stress on a six-level scale, women were 8 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. In other words: The higher the dose of daily stress, the lower the level of breast cancer.
Researchers made a tentative conclusion that sustained levels of stress may suppress the production of the female hormone estrogen responsible for breast cancer. “One hypothesis is that prolonged activation of stress hormones can lead to lower production of estrogens, which is a main risk factor for breast cancer. This hypothesis is only based on experimental data and remains to be confirmed in humans,” commented lead author Naja Rod Nielsen. Nielsen also pointed out that it’s the regular daily dose that appears helpful while short bursts of acute stress associated with traumatic events may actually be harmful
| A recent Roper Starch Worldwide survey of 30,000 people between the ages of 13 and 65 in 30 countries showed:|
Women who work full-time and have children under the age of 13 report the greatest stress worldwide.
Nearly one in four mothers who work full-time and have children under 13 feel stress almost every day.
Globally, 23 percent of women executives and professionals, say they feel "super-stressed."
This newest study backs up a 2002 study done by the London Cancer Research Psychosocial Group that found emotional stress did not increase the chance that a breast tumor would return after treatment. Dr Emma Pennery from Breast Cancer Care said: “We know from talking to women with breast cancer that some of them believe stress to be a contributory factor. This new study is therefore very interesting. It serves as a reminder that we still know very little about the causes of breast cancer and it is likely several factors combine to increase an individual's risk.”
However more research needs to be done since studies done in Finland, Sweden and the U.S. have found a direct link between high stress levels and breast cancer.
The authors were also quick to point out stress, while good for the breasts, is still harmful. “Even though we find a lower risk of breast cancer among stressed women, let me just emphasize that stress cannot be considered a healthy response. Stress is not a desirable state and it may lead to the development of other disease, particularly cardiovascular disease,” warned Nielsen. “This study may help us understand some of the mechanisms behind breast cancer and how stress actually affects breast cancer risk. The mechanisms behind the observed lower risk of breast cancer among stressed women remain unknown.”
If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in the following:
Breast Cancer Research has Banner Year
Painful Periods Related to Stress
Social Stress May Increase Uterine Cancer Risk