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15-year study: stress did not increase risk of breast cancer among women with a genetic susceptibility to the disease

11 May 2018

The idea that stress increases the risk of breast cancer is a persistent one, despite a number of major large-scale findings to the contrary.

“Over the past 40 years, women have been exposed to strong messages about the importance of ‘thinking positively’ and reducing stress in their lives, which can add to the burden of guilt in those who develop cancer, who feel they have somehow failed”, note the authors of a new prospective study of women in Australia, published in Psycho-Oncology.

Their findings suggest that neither acute nor chronic stressors recorded over a three-year period influenced the likelihood that a woman with a strong family history of breast cancer would develop the disease over the next three years.

“Our results, based on rigorous methodology, add to the growing literature providing reassurance to women at increased risk of breast cancer, who are concerned that the (often unavoidable) stressors in their lives may increase their risk of breast cancer”, the researchers said.

Read more in a post from Emma Young on our Research Digest blog.

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