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Stress May Increase Risk of Cancer - Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or Depression Treatments May Improve Immune System Response

March 9th 2006

Stress May Increase Risk of Cancer - Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or Depression Treatments May Improve Immune System Response

Stress May Affect Health

There may be a connection between stress and cancer. Sure cancer can cause stress, but new findings may help us determine if stress can cause cancer.  Previous research from the National Institute on Aging suggests that there may be link between chronic depression and cancer among older patients. 

Researchers found that when present for at least six years, depression was associated with an increased risk of cancer.  The study in 1998 found that the cancer rate among those depressed was 88 percent higher than other patients, according to report from CNN.

Now ABC News reports that Dr. Charles Raison said, ”Inflammatory pathways activated by stress have been implicated in the development of tumors, metastasis of tumors, and resistance to chemotherapy.”  Raison is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Behavioral Immunology Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta.


Experiments in cell biology and biochemistry have shown that certain molecules that increase in times of stress have also been linked with several diseases including cancer. Also, evidence of reduced immune function may help prove the cancer – stress link.   

According to the ABC report, Dr. Derek Raghavan said "People in high-stress occupations, such as police officers, doctors and firefighters don't have higher incidences of cancer than other members of the community… Once you have cancer, then the presence of stress and stress-related states like pessimism and hopelessness are associated with the progression of cancer and decreased survival."  Raghavan is Director of the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center.


Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore found that mice exposed to stressful conditions and ultraviolet light developed skin cancers in less than half the time it took for non-stressed mice.  This research was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects approximately 3 to 4 percent of the population, according to Forest Pharmaceuticals.  There are many things people can do to relieve or reduce stress and anxiety.  Yoga and meditation have been shown to reduce stress.  Some claim you can reduce stress by increasing your levels of serotonin or implementing relaxation techniques.

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

 Books on the Mind

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