Breast Cancer Stress

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:22pm

Study finds stress may lead to more aggressive breast cancer, especially in minorities.

One can only imagine the overwhelming stress that comes with hearing a doctor say, "you have breast cancer".

Now new research of nearly a thousand breast cancer patients links stress with aggressive tumors.

"The scientific community really is only beginning to understand what stress means biologically," says Dr. Garth Rauscher.

The link seems especially strong among black and hispanic breast cancer patients who reported higher levels of fear, anxiety and isolation.

The caveat is that patients were asked about their stress levels months after they were diagnosed, so it's unclear whether the women had increased levels of stress before their diagnosis.

"The nature of the timing of the collection of information makes it impossible to know what's responsible for what," says Dr. Rauscher.

So while doctors continue to learn more about how stress affects us physically, they say it's far too soon to stress yourself out over it.

The findings will have to be confirmed in larger studies.

Another study finds that even though the overall incidence of breast cancer is generally higher among white women, secondary breast cancers in the opposite breast are often higher in black women.

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