Do Depression and Stress Lead to the Spread of Cancer?

Don't Let Stress Get To You! Take a Deep Breath.
Don’t Let Stress Get To You! Take a Deep Breath.

It’s been well-documented that stress and depression can cause a wide range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems such as chronic joint pain, listlessness, and lack of concentration. Do these mental difficulties have any effect on the onset or spread of cancer?

The Connection between Stress and Cancer

An article published on the National Institutes of Health website gives a comprehensive overview of studies on the link between stress and cancer. While there is little evidence to suggest that stress and depression can trigger the development of tumors, there is strong evidence to support a relationship between stress and cancer metastasis.

Metastasis occurs when malignant cancer cells break free of their original location and spread to other parts of the body, forming new tumors. Researchers have discovered that chronic stress and depression activate hormones that promote angiogenesis, which is the process of creating new blood vessels.

While angiogenesis plays an important role in the healing process, it also provides the dedicated blood supply needed for cancer cells to grow and spread. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s in short supply in patients experiencing chronic stress or depression, inhibits angiogenesis and impacts the tumor microenvironment.

Combating Stress and Depression

The role of dopamine in restricting angiogenesis makes it a promising factor in immunotherapy for cancer. Having a strong support system can also relieve stress and depression while improving the outcome of treatment.

Immunotherapy for Cancer: Boosting Your Body’s Natural Defenses

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