Chronic Stress Boosts Cancer Cell Growth: Study

CHINA – Researchers have found in a recent study that chronic stress consistently for a long time could boost cancer cell growth. As we already know that stress affects the emotional, physical and mental health of a person. Now, stress has also found to increase the growth of cancer stem cells in the body. Not only this, but chronic stress could also contribute to heart as well as gut problems. Although the earlier research had already hinted that stress could speed up the growth of cancer through its gene activity, the new research at Dalian Medical University in China in collaboration with colleagues from across the world has added a new discovery into it.

Researchers studied the growth of cancer stem cells in mouse models of breast cancer. They pointed the finger at epinephrine hormone instead of cortisol hormone when it comes to discussing the issue of the spread of cancer. In order to study the effect of stress on the growth of cancer stem cells in rodents, researchers put all the mice in small, restrictive enclosures for a week. After this, mice were split into two groups. One of the group was kept as the control group and placed in comfortable enclosures. While the other group of mice was put in small enclosures for another 30 days.

In the investigation carried out by the scientists, it was observed that the group of mice which was kept in the comfortable enclosures was healthy. While the other group of mice in the stressed environment developed symptoms of depression and anxiety. Also, scientists noticed the high growth of tumor in these mice which contributed to cancer in the later stages. But still, it remained difficult to determine as of how stress contributes to the growth of cancer.

According to principal investigator Quentin Liu, from the Institute of Cancer Stem Cell at Dalian Medical University, “The direct signaling network between stress pathways and a cancer-propagating system remains almost completely unknown.”

He adds, “A better understanding of the biochemistry that causes stress to increase the growth of cancer cells could lead us toward targeted drug interventions, one of which we discovered in this work.”

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