The question of whether psychosocial stress is a factor in female cancer etiology is frequently asked and challenging for the physician to answer. Stress-prone personality or unfavorable coping styles and negative emotional responses or poor quality of life are associated with higher cancer incidence, poorer survival and higher cancer mortality. Among female cancers the relation to stress is more extensively studied and a stronger link is found for breast cancer survival. An experimentally proven direct oncogenic mechanism is the stress-induced change in immune surveillance and/or in endocrine function that predispose to female cancer. Stressful life experiences could indirectly promote high-risk behaviors such as smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, poor sleep or lower screening, early diagnosis or treatment adherence. Given the impossibility of avoiding stressors, promotion of better strategies of coping not only improves quality of life but it could theoretically help reducing cancer risk.
To cite this article
Is there any evidence of the belief that stress could increase the risk of female cancers?
4 (4): e976
Submission date: 13 Nov 2017
Revised on: 16 Nov 2017
Accepted on: 30 Nov 2017
Published online: 15 Dec 2017
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