Stress can reduce breast cancer risk, researchers find
High levels of daily stress reduce the chances of developing the disease by 40 per cent, they report in the British Medical Journal.
The finding runs counter to previous research which has suggested an increased risk of breast cancer in those under stress. Stress may also raise the risk of other diseases.
But the researchers from Denmark who conducted the latest study say sustained high levels of stress may reduce levels of oestrogen - the female hormone - which is known to affect the development of breast cancer.
The study involved 6,500 women in Copenhagen, who were followed over 18 years. They were asked at the start what stress they experienced routinely in their lives, defined as tension, nervousness, impatience, anxiety or sleeplessness.
Stress was not measured throughout the study and although the results were adjusted for factors such as whether the women had children, they did not take account of family history of the disease.
The findings showed that for every increased level on a six-point scale, there was an 8 per cent reduction in cancer risk. There were 251 women diagnosed with breast cancer during the study period, and those with the highest stress levels had the lowest risk.
"High endogenous concentrations of oestrogen are a known risk factor for breast cancer, and impairment of oestrogen synthesis induced by chronic stress may explain a lower incidence of breast cancer in women with high stress," the researchers say. They warn that stress may have other damaging effects, especially in heart disease.
A study in Sweden, conducted over 24 years and published in 2003, suggested that women who endured high stress levels ran twice the risk of developing breast cancer. But that study focused on severe stressful life events such as bereavement and divorce, whereas the Danish study focused on daily stress.
Dr Sarah Rawlings, head of policy for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity, said: "It's always hard to measure the impact of stress on breast cancer risk as it's difficult to untangle from other factors in our lives and everyone views their own stress levels differently. This study doesn't help us to draw further conclusions. However, maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle is important - high stress levels can lead to unhealthy behaviour, which may alter your risk of breast cancer and other diseases."
Life & Style blogs
Charlie Charlie Challenge: everyone on the internet thinks it’s a marketing stunt, but it probably isn’t
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be
Woman jailed for making 'loud sex noises'
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Windows 10: apps and features killed off as Microsoft reveals limits of new operating system
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...