Women exposed to negative life events at greater risk of breast cancer

August 23, 2008

Happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease, according to a study by Professor Ronit Peled, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. An article on the study titled "Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women," was just published in the British journal BMC Cancer (8:245, August 2008).

In the study, researchers questioned women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis. Researchers used this information to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and breast cancer among young women.

A total of 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 were interviewed: 255 breast cancer patients and 367 healthy women. "The results showed a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease. Conversely, women who suffered two or more traumatic events had a 62 percent greater risk," Peled said. "Young women who have been exposed to a number of negative life events should be considered an 'at-risk' group for breast cancer and should be treated accordingly."

The researchers indicate that women were interviewed after their diagnosis, which may color their recall of their past emotional state somewhat negatively. However, according to Peled, "We can carefully say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event is a risk factor for breast cancer among young women. On the other hand, a general feeling of happiness and optimism can play a protective role."

"The mechanism in which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behaviour and external events modulate these three systems is not fully understood," Peled states. "The relationship between happiness and health should be examined in future studies and relevant preventative initiatives should be developed."

Source: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Explore further: Breast cancer researchers find bacteria imbalance link

Related Stories

Breast cancer researchers find bacteria imbalance link

October 19, 2017
Researchers in the United States have uncovered differences in the bacterial composition of breast tissue of healthy women versus those with breast cancer.

Expert says mindfulness activities can help breast cancer survivors with post-treatment symptoms

October 19, 2017
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 250,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. They will join the approximately 3.1 million breast-cancer survivors who have completed treatment ...

People with and without mental health conditions receive preventive care at similar rates

October 19, 2017
People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder received preventive health screenings at rates similar to or higher than people without mental illnesses, according to a study of more than 800,000 patients published today in ...

Lumpectomy combined with lift a good option for women with breast cancer

October 18, 2017
A collaborative effort between a surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon can provide an opportunity for women diagnosed with breast cancer to not only have the lump removed from the breast, but also get a breast lift during ...

Insurance plays significant role in breast cancer disparities

October 16, 2017
Differences in insurance account for a substantial proportion of the excess risk of death from breast cancer faced by black women, according to a new study. The study, appearing in Journal of Clinical Oncology, concludes ...

Using artificial intelligence to improve early breast cancer detection

October 17, 2017
Every year 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the U.S. alone. When cancers are found early, they can often be cured. Mammograms are the best test available, but they're still imperfect and often result in false positive ...

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rmgill
not rated yet Aug 29, 2008
As is mentioned in the article, recall bias is too strong of a confounding factor for this study to be of any use. People with a cancer diagnosis will naturally comb through their past lifestyle habits more thoroughly or try and make connections with life events that are in all likelihood unrelated.

This cancer/personality myth that is constantly being propagated by the news media is increasing guilt of individuals diagnosed with cancer and other diseases because they feel that they HAVE to be happy to survive or that their personality is somehow responsible for them getting cancer, almost like they wanted it. This creates additional stress that simply isn't needed. It needs to stop.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.