AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

The mental condition of a person when under severe physical or emotional pressure is known as psychological stress. Everyone feels stressed at some point or the other, but if the psychological stress is persistent, it may lead to severe health problems.

Your job responsibilities, family obligations, self-image, illnesses etc. can act as stress triggers. Especially in the case of major illnesses like cancer, the enormous physical and mental stress can take quite a toll on the patient. Doctors acknowledge this distress as a major factor for the reduced quality of life amongst cancer patients.

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Link between psychological stress and health risk

White blood cells are our body’s defense mechanism against diseases. In a normal healthy body, there would be 5,000 to 10,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood. The number spikes when the body detects a threat. Psychological stress causes an immune-suppressive effect due to which the white cell count decreases considerably, thus making it difficult for the body to fight diseases.

Stress also causes the body to release stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine which causes an increase in blood pressure, blood sugar level and a faster heart rate. Studies also show that people who suffer from chronic stress (long term) suffer fertility problems, digestive problems, urinary problems and a feeble immune system.

Link between psychological stress and cancer risk

According to the recent studies by the National Cancer Institute, there is an association between stress and cancer.

Three major areas are being explored for this purpose:

  1. Stress and cell processes: The natural neoendocrine response of the body to the stressors causes changes in vital cell processes which protect the body against cancer. These processes include DNA repair and cell growth regulation.
  2. Stress and virus tumors: There is an indirect relationship between virus tumors such as Burkitt lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma and liver cancer, and stress. Stress causes the immune system to weaken, and this can aggravate infections such as herpes and hepatitis. These infections may be precursors to certain kinds of cancers.
  3. Stress linked to the growth and spread of tumor: According to a study conducted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, stress hormones such as norepinephrine and epinephrine cause a steady progression of the tumor in patients suffering from ovarian cancer. Experimental studies carried out on mice reveal that the cancer metastasized when the mice were kept isolated, thereby inducing psychological stress. In another study, women who were treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy for their triple-negative breast cancer were inquired about their beta blockers. Beta blockers are medicines that obstruct stress hormones during and after chemotherapy. Women who used beta blockers had an increased chance of surviving their treatment for cancer without experiencing a relapse, rather than those who did not use beta blockers.

It is thus evident that psychological stress plays a significant role in the growth and spread of cancer, and its treatment process. Family members can help cancer patients experience less stress, thus improving the chances of recovery and getting back to normal life.

Author Bio: Ralph Coleman is a medical writer who writes well-researched, in-depth cancer articles which provide relevant information to help patients combat the deadly disease. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) prides in providing the best cancer treatment solutions to patients who have endured to various cancer types. You can also get some valuable information here.


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