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Warning: Stress Increases Breast Cancer Risk

October 20, 2017

Mammograms aren’t the only way to safeguard yourself against breast cancer. Studies show that reducing stress can also be a contributing factor.

According to the American Cancer Society, “regular screening with mammograms does help reduce the death rate from breast cancer, especially in older women,” which is good news for women. But studies also show that lowering stress levels is also important for breast cancer survival. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago studied over 900 patients with breast cancer. In the study, the women were asked about their feelings of isolation, fear, and anxiety, as indicators of psychological stress. They found that “those who reported higher levels of stress tended to have more aggressive tumors.”

That’s not all. Another study from Ohio State University found that stress could spread breast cancer to other parts of the body. Researchers studied 300 samples from breast cancer patients. They found that a particular gene called ATF3 is activated during stress. And unfortunately, in the study, researchers found that “ATF3 promotes the immune cells to act erratically and give cancer an escape route from a tumor to other areas of the body.”

In the study, stress caused cancer to materialize in other organs. They even studied mice with breast cancer and found that cancer in mice with activated ATF3 metastasized to the lungs “far more rapidly and extensively” than the mice without ATF3.

If you are worried that your stress may be increase your risk of breast cancer or worsen the effects of breast cancer, there are Mindful tips that may help. According to professionals from John Hopkins, there are certain steps that can reduce your risk of breast cancer, help with the side effects of breast cancer treatment, and lower stress.


Here are just a few of their ideas:

  1. Invest in your emotional health: If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important to have a support group. Whether it’s people who share your diagnosis or loving family members, a support group can help you stay emotionally healthy. Even if you have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, a support group can help reduce your stress.
  2. Reconsider your diet: It’s a well-known fact that what you eat can impact your stress. Studies also show that certain nutrients can also help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Certain B vitamins reduce the risk of developing estrogen-related tumors. These vitamins can also reduce stress. So try eating more bananas, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.
  3. Exercise more: If you are getting treatment for breast cancer, exercise can reduce fatigue, anxiety, and stress. Consider yoga, water aerobics, and dancing classes.
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