split-banner-image

CAN STRESS INCREASE THE RISK OF BREAST CANCER?

A new study by Australian researchers including Breast Cancer Trials’ Professor Phyllis Butow AM and Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips is reassuring for the many women who worry that stress in their lives puts them at risk of breast cancer.

No Evidence Of Stress Increasing Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women Already At Higher Risk

A new study by Australian researchers including Breast Cancer Trials’ Professor Phyllis Butow AM and Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips is reassuring for the many women who worry that stress in their lives puts them at risk of breast cancer. This study found that stress does not increase the chance of developing breast cancer, in women who are already at higher than average risk of developing breast cancer.

Study Details

The study, conducted through the Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Breast Cancer, included women with a family history of breast cancer, or a known gene mutation (such as BRCA1/2), who were asked about stress in their lives over a 15 year period. The likelihood of developing breast cancer was the same in women who were more stressed, compared with women who were less stressed.

Of 3595 consecutive women invited to participate, 3054 (85.0%) consented. Of these, 2739 (89.7%) from 990 families (range 1-16 per family) completed at least 1 assessment point. During the study, 103 women were diagnosed with BCa. No stressor or psychosocial variable or interaction between them was significantly associated with BCa in unadjusted or adjusted models (total acute stressors HR = 1.03 [0.99-1.08], P = .19; total chronic stressors HR = 1.0 [0.90-1.11], P = .98). This study did not demonstrate an association between acute and chronic stressors, social support, optimism, antiemotionality or anger control, and BCa risk. Women should focus on proven methods of BCa risk reduction.

This is helpful information for women at increased risk, and the results are similar to previous high-quality studies that have not shown any consistent link between stress and breast cancer in the general population.

Study link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29677398

Support Us

Help us to change lives through breast cancer clinical trials research

Profile Image

Professor Phyllis Butow AM

Professor Phyllis Butow AM is a Professor and NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney

Latest Articles

Practice Changing Clinical Trials – Professor Alan Coates AM
Developing New Treatments for Invasive Lobular Carcinoma