There is no strong evidence that stress factors play a role in cancer development, but they may facilitate metastasis.
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Recent studies indicate that stress may facilitate the development of certain types of cancer and even develop transformation, These are mainly animal studies that have made it possible to identify the various endocrine, cellular and molecular mechanisms that may be at the basis of these processes.
The investigation has taken a turn Annabel Eckerling and their allies Sagol School of Neuroscience And this Tel Aviv University School of Psychological Sciencesand published in the magazine Nature, “Animal models have shown that stressors can favor a number of specific elements cancerSay the authors.
In addition, he says, “the stress response may facilitate growth”. cancer And this transformation Through direct action on the molecular characteristics of malignant tissue, on its microenvironment, on antitumor immune activity and on other indirect modulators of cancer progression”.
On the other hand, moving from the level of animal research to human clinical research, both epidemiological studies and clinical trials have produced somewhat inconclusive results, indicating only a small, not necessarily negative, effect of stress on cancer progression. indicate a significant effect.
“As a result, current medical routines do not include measures designed to inhibit stress responses as a means of improving cancer survival,” say the research authors. Within the medical community, this attitude reflects a certain suspicion that stress is an important biological factor in the causes of stress. cancer and its progress.
But what are the mechanisms by which stress can induce the development or growth of some forms of cancer? In relation to the initial transformation of normal tissue cancerStress has been linked, for example, to the induction of reduced efficiency of natural cell repair processes.
In addition, stress can lower the body’s resistance to certain types of viruses, called oncogenewhich are now known to be significantly involved in the onset of about 15% of cases cancer,
human papillomavirusThe epstein barr virusThe Kaposi’s herpesvirus Linked to sarcoma and K virus Hepatitis C Y B can be reactivated by both catecholamines As for the glucocorticoidTypical stress hormones.
In terms of the rate of progression of pre-existing cancers, it is now accepted that catecholamines They are able to promote the proliferation of cancer cells, their survival and migration to other tissues. In particular, the action of certain social “stressors” in this sense has been studied, such as conflict with other people and loneliness.
high circulating level of norepinephrine (a catecholamine) may also stimulate the growth of tumor infection, which in turn can cause more norepinephrine to flow in a dangerous vicious cycle. Similarly, catecholamines They may facilitate the growth of blood vessels within the cancer, a deciding factor for its subsequent development. For example a phenomenon seen in ovarian, breast, pancreas and colorectal cancers.
stimulation of inflammatory processes
Another mechanism through which supports the progression of stress cancer It is the stimulation of inflammatory processes and inhibition of certain fundamental joints of the immune system. Another area of research that attempts to understand any relationship between stress And this cancer studied in large populations.
The effects of stress on patient survival were studied, as well as stress dependent on individual factors, such as depression, isolation, lack of social support, and stress that depends on factors not directly related to the individual, such as War and climate change.
“Considering the unpleasant or minor effects that emerged from observational studies, and considering the diversity of research methodologies, the population studied, and the type of stressor, it is unclear whether stress can increase the incidence of cancer.” and to what extent it may facilitate its progress”, say the authors of the research on the results of epidemiological studies.
Finally, the researchers also analyzed clinical studies that evaluated the potential impact of psychosocial or psycho-pharmacological interventions on cancer progression, for example worrying You antidepressant, Also in this case it was not possible to draw definite conclusions because of the methodological difficulties associated with this type of research.
in conclusion? “Although there is evidence that stress promotes the onset of cancer Inconsistent, however, there is strong evidence that stress can facilitate the progression of cancer through the modulation of several of its specific building blocks,” the authors say.
The molecular and systemic mechanisms mediating these effects have been identified in animal studies and many of them have also been identified in patients. cancer,
And what about the opportunity to launch a support program to reduce stress in cancer patients? Annabel Eckerling and colleagues state that “stress management interventions should be tested in critical periods that affect cancer progression, particularly in the short postoperative period and adjuvant treatment, to compare with other periods and with pharmacological interventions.” with counteracting stress and inflammatory responses essentially triggered by medical procedures.”
More multicentre experimental studies will be needed to assess the long-term effects of the treatment.
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