Monday, August 25, 2008

How Happiness May Prevent Breast Cancer?

According to a new study, happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease.

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer after lung cancer and starts in the cells of the breast in men and women. The mainstay of its treatment is surgery and cancer drugs. The study has been conducted at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and published in the British journal BMC Cancer.

During the study, researchers asked women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis. Further, the researchers used this information to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and breast cancer among young women.

A total of 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 were interviewed: 255 breast cancer patients and 367 healthy women. The findings of the study show that there was a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease. On the other hand women who suffered two or more traumatic events had a 62 percent increased risk of the disease.

The researchers think that young women who have been exposed to a number of negative life events should be considered 'at-risk' for breast cancer and treated accordingly.

However, there's a possible pitfall that since the women were interviewed after their diagnosis, it could have made them recall negative events more readily. Also, recently, in a different study, the researchers had discovered that disclosing breast cancer diagnoses is itself quite a challenge.

Despite the skepticism the scientists believe that it's safe to say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event raises a red flag of risk for breast cancer among young women. However, a general feeling of happiness and optimism may have protective effect.

Additionally, the mechanism by which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behavior and external events affect these three systems is not fully understood. And it needs more research to figure out answers to these questions.

Recently, there's been some eye opening finds as a result of cancer research. For instance, see: Moisturized Mice Mean Skin Cancer. And that aside from the conventional pharmaceutical drugs, there's also the Power of Naturals Against Cancer.

1 comment:

Haralee said...

The logical concluion to this study is that if you keep a positive attitude during treatments you will live longer. I just don't buy the theory or the study!I'd like to see a follow up to this study in 5-10 years with the same women.