Cancer is an alarmingly increasing danger to the women's health and femininity, threatening their lives. The always higher number of breast cancer cases in the last decades can be explained by a series of factors, like the growing obesity, higher alcohol consumption, the fact that few women nowadays breast-feed their newborn children etc.
A new research shows that women that are always under stress at work could be 30 % more exposed to breast cancer, compared to those who feel good at the office.
The study started in 1990 was made on 36,000 Swedish subjects, aged 30 to 50, and contradicts previous findings that did not connect stress and breast cancer. The women were monitored until 2004, by which time 767 of them had developed the condition.
The risk of breast cancer connected to stressful jobs was calculated after taking into account other factors, like alcohol intake, number of births, weight, and age. There was no connection between stress and cancer for the subjects having a part-time job.
The reasons are not clearly understood. Stress could increase the amounts of estrogen, a well known risk factor for breast cancer, but it also affects a woman's behavior, making her vulnerable to unhealthy habits like smoking and sedentary life. "Stress could also potentially weaken the immune system," said lead researcher Dr Hannah Kuper, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The study did not assess other sources of stress (such as problems at home, family conflicts). "The study only measured job stress at one point in the women's lives, which could have skewed the findings", added Kuper.
Long working hours and stress accumulated at work have also been recently connected to early menopause, sterility and higher risk of miscarriage.
But a Danish research made on 7,000 subjects, aged over 18, did not connect high stress levels to increased risk of developing breast cancer. "Previous studies have failed to provide any convincing link between breast cancer and stress. One of the difficulties is that it is hard to measure stress, it's an objective thing. But if people are stressed, that can lead to unhealthy behavior. If women feel stressed, they may not eat as well, they may drink more and they may do less exercise", said Dr Emma Pennery, of the charity Breast Cancer Care.
"Our work has shown no association between severely adverse life experiences and relapse of breast cancer. Our results suggest women with breast cancer need not fear that stressful experiences will precipitate the return of their disease.", said Professor Amanda Ramirez, of Cancer Research UK.