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Breast Cancer Risk High for Unhappy Women

Aug 26, 2008
Women, facing negative life events were found to have an increased risk of breast cancer, the new study says.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel conducted a research that revealed the link between breast cancer and stressful life events. According to the study, happy and optimistic women may be better protected from the tumor than those, whose emotional life was more disturbed.

During the study, scientists questioned 622 women aged between 25 and 45: one group of 255 women, having breast cancer and the other group of 367 healthy women on different topics related to their life events. They evaluated the levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression before the women were diagnosed with the disease. This data was used to determine the connection between life events, stressful events and breast cancer among young women.

The results of the study showed a strong connection between emotional attitude and risk of breast cancer. Optimistic women are 25 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer, while those women who were exposed to two or more traumatic life events were 62 percent more likely to have the disease.

Professor Ronit Peled, a leading author of the study said that women undergoing negative live experiences should be considered "at-risk" group. Otherwise, the feelings of happiness and optimistic approach can play a great protective role.

However, it is still unclear how the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behavioral and external factors influence these systems. Peled explained that scientists need to study the connection of happiness with health and take this factor into account while developing preventive measures.

The study called "Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women" was published in August issue of the British journal BMC Cancer.

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