Relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

How stress affects cancer risk | MD Anderson Cancer Center

relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

Stress, depression, the immune system, and cancer .. The relationship of depression and stressors to immunological assays: a meta-analytic review. Stress also can affect your immune system. Studies show that This makes it less likely that stress will cause changes in the way a tumor grows. Some studies . Why publish an article in a major cancer journal that demonstrates an However , the associations between stress and immune system.

Short-term or acute stress, like the type you might feel before giving a speech or fighting holiday shopping crowds, tends to subside as soon as the event passes. But long-term or chronic stress is more damaging. That type of stress springs from situations that last many weeks or months with no definite end point. This type of no-end-in-sight stress can weaken your immune system, leaving you prone to diseases like cancer.

relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

It also ups your risk for digestive problems and depression. Stress hormones can inhibit a process called anoikis, which kills diseased cells and prevents them from spreading, Sood says.

relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

Chronic stress also increases the production of certain growth factors that increase your blood supply. This can speed the development of cancerous tumors, he adds. Find healthy ways to manage stress What can you do about stress?

Please enter a valid email address Sign up Oops! Please enter a valid email address Oops!

  • How stress affects cancer risk
  • Does Stress Play a Role in Cancer?

Please select a newsletter There are mutliple ways that stress might play a role in cancer. Ditto for the range of issues that may influence the course of cancer once it has occurred.

relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

That said, experts in the field of psycho-oncology, which concerns itself with the psychological, behavioral, and social factors that may affect cancer, say that a growing body of literature suggests that stress does play a role in cancer causation and recovery. When enough genes controlling these functions are disabled, a cancer cell is free to divide relentlessly and endlessly.

Some people may inherit a gene that predisposes them to cancer, such as the BRCA1 gene, which has been linked to many cancers, including breast cancer. But a cell requires more genetic hits to trigger cancer. Under normal circumstances, the body is exquisitely primed to prevent those multiple hits from leading to cancer.

relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

One of those processes is performed by the immune system. That stress is a risk factor for these diseases raises the possibility that even small stress-induced changes in immune function might be important clinically. It also suggests that, even if stress does not influence the course of cancer, it might alter the risk of infection and for other immune-related diseases, especially among patients receiving chemotherapy.

Stress, depression, the immune system, and cancer.

There is evidence that the reduction of stress by the provision of social support may be associated with an amelioration in the course of some malignant diseases.

For example, a study of women with metastatic breast cancer showed an month increase in survival 8and a study of men and women with melanoma showed increased survival and reduced recurrence after 5—6 years 9. Although the latter study found that the intervention was also effective in increasing natural killer cell cytotoxicity, no associations were observed between this change in immune function and disease recurrence or mortality.

It can be argued that attempts to increase immune function by stress reduction strategies may have only limited effects on immunity and consequently on disease progression. Moreover, the effectiveness of these interventions may be further reduced by the influence of chemotherapeutic agents on immune function.

relationship of stress to the immune system and cancer

Nevertheless, the provocative findings that social support interventions reduce mortality are hard to ignore. However, it is not clear that the effects of these interventions on mortality are mediated through immune mechanisms.

Stress, depression, the immune system, and cancer.

It is possible that the interventions might work through other pathways, such as by increasing adherence to medication or nutritional regimens or by ameliorating the direct effects of stress-induced endocrine response on tumor growth. In sum, Andersen et al. The question remains whether the immune changes associated with stress have implications for cancer progression and metastasis.