According to a recent study conducted at the University of Illinois, high stress levels may be contributing to the aggressiveness of breast cancer tumours in Hispanic and African American women.
The study was conducted in an attempt to shed light on why there are large differences in the mortality rates between black and white women especially in Chicago, USA as a result of breast cancer. Doctor Rauscher author of the study reported that Hispanics and African Americans on the whole have higher grade tumours and hormone receptor negative tumours.
This was an exploratory study examining possible causes for the disparities in tumour aggressiveness between women of different ethnicities. The study was one of the first to consider the potential role of psychosocial stress on breast tumour progression. The results suggested that higher levels of stress were indicative of tumour aggression.
Dr. Rauscher however did report that the study was flawed due to its methodology, the data was collected using a cross-sectional analysis which could bias the results, however it has highlighted an association between stress and tumour aggressiveness which can now be more extensively examined using a cohort study or randomised controlled study. However if nothing else this study highlights the need for stress management practices such as mindfulness meditation, exercise and yoga to name a few examples in order to minimise any negative effect of prolonged stress on general health and wellbeing.