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28.08.2017


How stress impacts on cancer

If another cancer cell just happens to emerge in your body [and that happens more often than you want to know according to oncologists], the chance of it metastasising increases if you are subject to chronic stress. This has been shown in an animal study that Australian researchers at Monash University published in 2016 in Nature Communications.

Study
The researchers injected mice with hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells and then watched how the cancer cells developed and metastasised. Cancer cells generally do this via the lymph glands.

The researchers put some of the mice in a plastic tube in which they were unable to move for two hours a day over a period of a month. These are very stressful conditions for mice.

Results
The researchers found more metastasised tumours in the lymph glands of the stress group, and the tumours were bigger.


How stress impacts on cancer


When the stress mice were given the beta-blocker propranolol, which blocks adrenalin, the effect of the stress disappeared. On the other hand, if the mice were given isoproterenol, which imitates the effect of adrenalin, then the effects of stress were stronger.

In the cancer cells stress increased the activity of VEGF, a hormone that induces the body to make blood vessels, and COX2, an enzyme that produces inflammatory factors such as PGE-2.


How stress impacts on cancer


Deactivating VEGF and COX2 also cancelled the stress effect.

Human study
Lab mice are not humans of course, but there are indications that chronic stress can also increase the likelihood of cancer cells metastasising in humans.

The researchers had access to data gathered by the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, which showed that women with breast cancer developed metastases less often if they took beta-blockers once they had been diagnosed.


How stress impacts on cancer


Conclusion
"We found that chronic stress signals the sympathetic nervous system to profoundly impact lymphatic function and the spread of cancer cells," said first author Caroline Le in a press release. [medicalxpress.com March 2, 2016]



"These findings demonstrate an instrumental role for stress in controlling lymphatic function to impact health, and suggest that blocking the effects of stress to prevent cancer spread through lymphatic routes may provide a way to improve outcomes for patients with cancer."

Source:
Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 1;7:10634.

More:
Stress and fatigue reduce testosterone just as much as age does 07.08.2017
Loneliness makes stress even more unhealthy 15.08.2014
Stress reduces life expectancy at molecular level 07.09.2009

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