Stress & Cancer

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Stress & Cancer

Stress is a psychological condition that primarily occurs under mental, physical, or emotional pressure. In our day-to-day life, stress is a common condition. But people who experience stress repeatedly over a long period may develop health problems.

The busy schedule of life or some unusual events like trauma and illness of an individual or family member of can generate stress. Cancer patients are often unable to manage normal life activities because cancer detection leads to distressing conditions. Distress hampers the quality of life of cancer patients. Clinical evidence reported that distress in cancer patients negatively affects the treatment outcome.

Response of body during the stressful condition

Stress hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine are released from the body during stressful conditions. These hormonal releases increase blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels. All these physical changes try to a person to escape the threat.

Long-term stress causes digestive health problems, urinary health issues, fertility problems, and weak functioning of the immune system. Chronic stress also increases the infection like flu, common cold susceptibility of a victim, headache, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.

Can Stress cause cancer?

There is no significant evidence support connection between stress and cancer. However, few studies found a link between psychological factors and cancer risk. Superficially, experts suggest that during stress people tend to smoke, overeating, alcohol drinking. These poor lifestyles increase the risk of cancer.

The negative impact of stress in cancer patient

Cancer patients may experience a stressful condition because of physical, emotional, and social effects. Cancer patients who start smoking or drinking alcohol or lead a sedentary life may have a poor quality of life after cancer treatment. In contrast, cancer patients who maintain the stress level through stress management, relaxation, and other effective coping strategies have lower levels of anxiety, depression, and cancer and its treatment-related negative effects. But no scientific evidence was found to support successful stress management improves cancer survival.

Experimental research studies mention that stress can impact tumor growth and spread. Animal research reported that norepinephrine, a stress hormone that releases during fight and flight responses may stimulate metastasis and angiogenesis. Another human trial found that beta-blockers as neoadjuvant chemotherapy improved that survival chances in a group of breast cancer patients.

However, the influence of stress on cancer outcomes is not evidentially proved. But cancer patient often develops a helplessness or hopelessness sense due to overwhelming of stress level. This response increases the death rate, though the mechanism is unclear. Feeling helpless or hopeless interfere with the adherence to the prescribed treatment or engaging in drug abuse or risky behaviors or inability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The resulting of this leads to premature death.

How can cancer patients cope up with stress?

Cancer patients need emotional and social support to deal with mental stress. Supportive behavior from family and friends assists to reduce anxiety, depression and helps them to cope up with the disease and treatment-related symptoms. Following are certain therapy may be helpful for the patient to cope up with the stress level:

  • Meditation and training for stress management and relaxation
  • Cancer education sessions
  • Talk therapy and counseling
  • Exercise
  • Social support
  • Medication for depression or anxiety

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