Connection between chronic stress and cancer
Is chronic stress connected to cancer development?
The relationship between chronic stress and cancer has been studied for decades. Cancer is ultimately a biological and genetic disorder that induces uncontrolled cell growth in our body.
But, why is cancer a genetic disease?
Cancer is in essence produced by a mutation (or alteration) in genes inside each cell. In turn, these mutations can be inherited at birth from our family, or acquired throughout life. Likewise, acquired mutations represent 80-100% of cases depending on the origin of each cancer.
Why can genes mutate throughout life and trigger cancer?
The main reason might be chronic inflammation over time of the cells and the environment that surrounds them.
Traditional inflammatory elements such as tobacco, sunlight or a high-fat diet would play a role here, provided these are sustained over time.
However, the term “chronic stress” can go even further than the mentioned elements. Thereby, other external situations maintained over time could be connected to chronic stress associated with cancer development. Some examples include the passing of a relative, a bad relationship with a family member or friend, an adverse situation at work, or any other unresolved problem that produces a high anxiety level.
Anyway, it is worth mentioning that all stress-generating elements associated with cancer development must be present for a long time and not be transient. And is there where the immunologic system plays a fundamental role.
With that in mind, many scientific studies have observed that tumoral cells have a high concentration of receptors for some neurotransmitters associated with physiologic stress such as adrenalin. The latter is naturally elevated while facing any external stress source.
That is why a good way of preventing cancer is to avoid or control all of those mentioned external elements that lead to a state of chronic stress sustained over time.
Plenty is researched and mentioned about the new advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment, which is important as well as essential. However, it is equally important and relevant to identify and control those elements generating chronic stress to reduce the possibility of developing cancer throughout life.