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Sunday, September 11, 2005

High Stress, Lower Breast Cancer Rate

Daily stress may be bad for the heart, but it could protect women against breast cancer, suggested researchers here.

Among 6,689 Danish women followed for almost 20 years, those who reported having high levels of daily stress at the outset had a 40% lower risk of breast cancer than their initially more serene counterparts, reported Naja Rod Nielsen, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Danish National Institute of Public Health and other institutions.

The known estrogen-suppressing effects of high stress could account for the lower cancer risk, but that doesn't mean that women should consider adding high pressure to their daily routines, the investigators cautioned in the Sept. 10 issue of the British Medical Journal.

"High endogenous concentrations of estrogen are a known risk factor for breast cancer, and impairment of estrogen synthesis induced by chronic stress may explain a lower incidence of breast cancer in women with high stress," the investigators wrote. "Impairment of normal body function should not, however, be considered a healthy response, and the cumulative health consequences of stress may be disadvantageous."

Their findings are in direct contrast to at least two other studies suggesting that increased stress either correlates with an increased risk of breast cancer or doesn't affect it.

Read more: High Daily Stress Equals Lower Breast Cancer Rate


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