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The Link between Chronic Stress and Breast Cancer

There have long been suspicions that chronic stress and breast cancer diagnoses are linked. Now there’s evidence. In a recently published study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers found a solid link between high rates of chronic stress and the rate of breast cancer developing. Of course, when patients are diagnosed with cancer, they can experience a lot of negative stressors like fear, anxiety, and even depression. These stressors have long been cataloged as risk factors for tumor growth and the progression of cancer. Questions remain on exactly how chronic stress affects cancer development.

The research from the Dalian Medical University in China confirmed that chronic stress can help to promote the development of breast cancer. The study found that chronic stress coerces the body into producing more epinephrine. When epinephrine increases, a chemical call lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is also increased. LDHA has a tendency to promote the growth of stem-like breast cancer cells.

This study has important implications for the treatment of breast cancer and other similar cancers. By testing specifically for LDHA, the study discovered that Vitamin C reduced the presence of these stem-like cancer phenotypes. Basically, Vitamin C is able to reverse this particular effect of chronic stress.

The outcomes of this study clearly demonstrate the importance of including a therapeutic approach to breast cancer treatment based on the way negative psychological factors have been proven to promote the stem-like growth of breast cancer cells.

Lead researcher, Liu Qiang, reports, “The LDHA-lowering agent Vitamin C can be a potential approach for combating stress-associated breast cancer.”

The team at Dalian Medical University has been engaged in research looking at the dynamic regulation of cancer stem cells in addition to how psycho-social behavior can affect tumor development.

Patients diagnosed with stomach, ovarian, and or breast cancers often have negative emotions. Qiang observed that these emotions, in turn, accelerated the development and progression of the patients’ tumors.

Some of the impacts of this study are clear: Qiang reported, “It is necessary to monitor their chronic stress comprehensively by taking psychological assessments as well as conducting blood tests which include epinephrine levels.”

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