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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Contributor
September 08, 2012

Stress Can Cause Breast Cancer To Spread

Research reveals that stress could make things worse for patients. By Charlene J. Owen

It’s natural for those who have been diagnosed with it to feel frightened and depressed, but if a patient is to stop cancer, she must first overcome her negative emotions, according to a study reported by Science Daily.

Director Florent Elefteriou, Ph.D. and his colleagues from Vanderbilt Center for Bone Biology have found that stress caused a patient’s anxiety and melancholy can push breast cancer to spread or metastasize to the bone. This is due to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls every person’s “fight-or-flight” instinct during tense and dangerous situations. The system’s activation increases the levels of RANKL (Receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand) molecules that assist in bone resorption, a process where bone is broken down to release minerals and calcium to the bloodstream.
When this natural occurrence is kicked into high gear in a stressed breast cancer patient, bone resorption can cause weaker bones that are more habitable to cancer cells, making it easier for the disease to metastasize.

Elefteriou and his team has also found that propranolol, a blood pressure drug, can actually help in stopping breast cancer from spreading to the bone, but prevention is still the best medication. If you have a loved one diagnosed with breast cancer, show your support simply by making her laugh. Reminisce happier times and create new memories to chuckle about even within the confines of her hospital room.  Most of all, continue fuelling her hope. Faith that all will be well is the body’s best weapon against any disease, and if she continues to have positive outlook in life, she can slowly but surely defeat the Big C.

(Photo by Alice Wycklendt via

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Charlene J. Owen
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