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Psychosocial stress associated with more aggressive illnesses

Numerous studies have linked psychological and social stress with the onset of a host of conditions, from diminished mental health to obesity. Now, researchers have discovered a link between psychosocial anxiety and aggressive breast cancer.

In a study, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois School of Public Health found that patients with higher levels of stress were significantly more likely to have an aggressive form of breast cancer when compared to their less-stressed counterparts.

However, study authors noted that their methodology was such that they were unable to determine whether mental anxiety was the cause behind or the result of a diagnosis of aggressive cancer.

“It may be that the level of stress in these patients’ lives influenced tumor aggressiveness. It may be that being diagnosed with a more aggressive tumor, with a more worrisome diagnosis and more stressful treatments, influenced reports of stress,” said researcher Garth Rauscher, Ph.D.

According to BreastCancer.org, an estimated 12 percent of women develop breast cancer at some point in their life.

When considering the prevalence of the carcinoma and cost of treatment, prevention efforts may be the most effective course of action against breast cancer. Employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management have been shown to significantly improve staff health and strengthen employee performance.