Stress can affect cancer patients in many different ways.
Stress is generally defined as a condition in which the body or mind is placed under strain or tension. Stress is a normal part of life. In fact, studies show it to be a necessary part of life, prompting us to adapt and become more resilient. But if it becomes excessive, stress can have adverse physical as well as psychological consequences.
For cancer patients, psychological stress adds to the burden imposed by the disease and the sometimes difficult aspects of treatment. Researchers have begun to explore whether, and in what ways, stress can affect the course of the disease.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there’s no solid evidence that stress can cause cancer. “Some studies have indicated a link between various psychological factors and an increased risk of developing cancer, but others have not,” the NCI website states.
While relaxation and stress-management techniques can certainly enhance patients’ quality of life, there’s little to suggest that these practices improve cancer survival, according to the NCI.
Some studies have suggested that psychological stress can affect a tumor’s ability to grow and spread. In studies of mice carrying human tumors, researchers found that in mice isolated from other mice – a condition that increases stress – the tumors were more likely to grow and metastasize. “In one set of experiments, tumors transplanted into the mammary fat pads of mice had much higher rates of spread to the lungs and lymph nodes if the mice were chronically stressed than if the mice were not stressed. Studies in mice and in human cancer cells grown in the laboratory have found that the stress hormone norepinephrine, part of the body’s fight-or-flight response system, may promote angiogenesis [growth of tumor-supporting blood vessels] and metastasis,” the NCI reports.
Read Full Article: Can Stress Affect Cancer? – Insight
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