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Can Positive Outlook Reduce Risk?

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A small study suggests that being happy and having a positive outlook on life can actually reduce the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The research also suggests that having more than one negative major life event (such as the death of a spouse) increases breast cancer risk.

The researchers asked 255 women between the ages of 25 and 45 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer within the past year about their feelings of happiness, optimism, depression, and anxiety, as well as whether they had experienced any negative major life events during the years before diagnosis. The researchers put the same questions to 367 women of the same age range who hadn't been diagnosed with breast cancer. The results:

  • Women who reported a general feeling of happiness were 25% less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Women who had gone through more than one negative major life event were more than 60% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

It's not clear how a gloomy outlook or extremely difficult life experiences can affect the risk of breast cancer. Still, the link between emotional well-being and physical well-being is clear and shouldn't be ignored. In addition to a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol, taking care of your emotional well-being is one more important step you can take to keep your risk of breast cancer as low as it can be.

You can't control many of the difficult experiences that come into your life, but you can do things to keep your emotional life balanced and positive. If you're feeling sad or depressed, talk to a doctor about your feelings and what you can do to improve your mood. If you don't exercise, consider making regular physical activity a part of your routine. Besides the physical benefits, many women find that regular exercise boosts their emotional well-being. You also might want to consider complementary and holistic medicine techniques such as massage, meditation, yoga, and journaling. These techniques have been shown to help ease anxiety and depression. You can learn more about these techniques in the Breastcancer.org Complimentary and Holistic Medicine section.

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