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Stress Does Not Worsen Cancer

Posted 4/17/2014

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  I regret that our blogging system will not allow punctuation in the title. I wanted to lead this with: Stress does not worsen cancer !!!!!!". Of my various soap box issues, this is my favorite, the one thing that I hope every single woman who leaves my office can believe. Yes, it surely matters for your quality of life if you are hyper-stressed. However, it matters not one whit vis a vis the cancer. Please lay this particular worry to rest.

  There is so much that it difficult and stressful and worrisome about cancer; adding the concern that your worry or your negativity or your just plain bad mood is making things medically worse is a curse--and is just plain wrong. Plenty of totally stressed out and super negative people do just fine with cancer. Sadly, the converse is also true, but it wasn't the stress that caused the problems.

  This is a review from The American Cancer Society about many studies and articles that have looked at this question. Here is the start and a link to read more. Please do read it.

Studies: No Clear Link Between Stress and Cancer Returning

By Stacy Simon

When treatment ends, cancer survivors begin a new chapter in their lives, one that can bring hope and happiness – but also fear of the cancer coming back. Many survivors feel stress at this point in their cancer journey, while also worrying that the stress itself might increase the chances of recurrence. To examine the relationship between stress and cancer recurrence, researchers from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences have reviewed the scientific literature on the topic published from December 1979 through April 2012. They found no clear evidence that stress causes cancer to come back. However, the authors conclude that reducing stress is still beneficial because it can improve emotional well-being and quality of life.
The review is published in the March-April 2014 issue of Cancer Nursing. It analyzes 15 studies that compared stress levels to rates of cancer recurrence. The studies used a variety of methods for determining survivors’ stress levels. Some used questionnaires to find out if survivors were going through stressful events in their
lives. Others measured stress through psychological symptoms including depression and anxiety. And the rest measured the levels of certain hormones that are known to be released into the bloodstream when people are under stress for long periods of time.
Most of the studies reported finding no relationship between cancer recurrence and stress. A few did find some relationship, and a few actually found the reverse: less cancer recurrence associated with more stress. Overall, the researchers conclude that the evidence does not show stress causes cancer to come back, although they acknowledge that more research is needed on the subject. The authors write that even though stress was not shown to cause cancer recurrence, stress management is good for survivors’ emotional well-being and quality of life.


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