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Breast Cancer Risk Increased by Stress of Social Isolation

Posted Dec 11 2009 12:00am
A press release from the University of Chicago discusses a new study that explores the relationship between the stress of social isolation and breast cancer risk.  In this study, investigators subjected rats prone to naturally occurring breast cancer to social isolation.  Isolation resulted in:
  • Increased production of corticosterone, a primary stress hormone
  • Longer recovery times from exposure to stressful situations
  • Isolated rats being more than 3 times as likely to develop breast cancer
  • A 135% increase in the number of breast tumors in isolated rats
  • An 8,000% increase in breast tumor size in isolated rats
This paper is part of concerted effort by researchers at the University of Chicago to explore the relationship between social stress and isolation on breast cancer risk, particularly in regards to ethnic health differences as related to living conditions.  A previous study by this group of researchers suggested that one possible reason that deaths due to breast cancer are higher in African American women is that these women are exposed to environmental conditions (housing, high-crime neighborhoods, etc) that cause social isolation.  A paper on this subject from these researchers can be read HERE.  This is very interesting research that points out the impact of lifestyle on health. 

There are many things that are part of our daily lives that can increase our risk for breast cancer and other diseases.  Changes in these lifestyle habits have been shown to lower breast cancer risk.  Stress is a major contributor to poor health and reducing stress is Day 6 of my 7-Day Prescription for Healthier Breasts.  To read more about the impact of stress on breast cancer risk and strategies that I've found effective for reducing stress, read Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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