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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Does Stress Cause Breast Cancer?

Swedish Study Suggests That Chilling Out now Could Lower Breast Cancer Risk Later

Stress Ranks High Among Risk Factors continued...

Helgesson is quick to caution that the study is small and that much more research needs to be done before anyone can state with authority that stress can increase the risk of breast cancer the way that, say, smoking contributes to lung cancer and heart disease.

Two leading cancer researchers who were asked by WebMD to comment on the study agreed.

"It's always a problem with how you define stress and whether you have a large enough study population. We're not seeing all the data we'd like to see: a larger study with clearer definitions of what is stress. But it's definitely a study worth pursuing, maybe finally putting a nail in the coffin is there a link to stress, yes or no," says Harry Storm, MD, director of Cancer Prevention and Documentation at the Danish Cancer Society, based in Copenhagen.

"This is something that's under intensive study now, and there are some indications that stress may play a role in some cancers like breast cancer," said Harry Vainio, MD, with the International Agency for Research in Cancer in Lyons, France. "But we need to see larger studies where the data can be broken down to give us a clearer idea of what's going on."

Storm adds that other studies have examined the exact same question and gotten strikingly different answers. He mentioned one study of women who had suffered the death of one of their children (an extremely stressful situation) where the researchers found that there was absolutely no relationship between stress and a later risk of breast cancer.

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