Can stress cause cancer?

6:56 PM, Jun 28, 2011   |    comments
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By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Getting a cancer diagnosis is extremely stressful.  But does stress itself cause cancer?

It's the subject of this week's "8 Ways to Prevent Cancer" segment.

"I have heard people say that my stress caused cancer, or I have been under so much stress that I know that caused my cancer," says Dr. Teresa Deshields, a psychologist at Siteman Cancer Center.

It could be your job, your family, or your finances. Stress is hard to avoid.

But can you literally worry yourself into a state that would cause you to get cancer?

"You know that's something that has been studied," says Dr. Deshields. "There has never been a conclusive link proven."

What we do know is medical evidence shows stress affects the immune system.

"They have done those studies with college students stress levels and their vulnerability to colds, things like that," says Dr. Deshields. "So we do know the immune system is suppressed by stress, we know that much of a link."

Managing stress comes back to the advice we've all heard: Eat right, and get enough rest and exercise.

"There has been research about stress management strategies, relaxation techniques, yoga can be a form of exercise and relaxation, meditation, some of those things that are calming can help to buffer the body from the affects of stress," says Dr. Deshields.



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