Growth and spread of cancer linked to stress

Researchers have confirmed what many people have believed for quite some time. Stress is linked to the growth of cancer and finding ways to relax or reduce stress may improve patients prospects.

When mice with ovarian cancer are stressed, their tumors grow and spread more quickly, but that effect can be blocked using a medication commonly prescribed for heart disease, according to a preclinical study by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.The finding, published in the journal Nature Medicine, now available on-line, provides the first measurable link between psychological stress and the biological processes that make ovarian tumors grow and spread. Specifically, the researchers showed that stress hormones bind to receptors directly on tumor cells and, in turn, stimulate new blood vessel growth and other factors that lead to faster and more aggressive tumors.

‘This study provides a new understanding of how chronic stress and stress factors drive tumor growth,’ says Anil Sood, M.D., associate professor of gynecologic oncology and cancer biology and director of ovarian cancer research

They go on to use propanolol a beta blocker to reduce stress.

In additional experiments, the researchers gave the stressed mice propranolol, which blocked the effect of stress hormones. The medication completely neutralized the effect of stress on tumor growth,’ says Sood.

Of course, people could use EFT or meditation to relieve their stress and so they would not need to spend money on the medication (or cope with it’s side effects). I suppose it’s difficult to teach a mouse to meditate or use EFT!

It’s ironic to me that it should be the process of new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) that is resposible for these effects. In my previous employment as a software engineer one of the programs I developed was an image analysis package that measured the extent of angiogenesis under different conditions.

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