- Question from Chat-3: Can you talk about the value of being told that 'we' now know unequivocally that stress contributes to cancer?
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
The institution that I work at, which is Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is frequently asked that question and absolutely rejects the notion that stress causes cancer. It is somewhat in line with the philosophy that we discussed earlier about the positive attitude. It is all a notion that we are responsible for what happened to us. It adds to guilt that we caused this. There is no good scientific evidence that stress causes cancer.
Having said that, it would be a worthwhile goal to try to control stress in our lives. Less stress and we have an easier life. There is no connection, however, between stress and the development of cancer. To accept that is to set a goal for yourself that it is possible to live a life without stress, which will just give you more stress.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. There is no question that experiencing stress can make you feel really lousy and I have seen a number of my patients really accomplish a great deal of progress in this area by learning how to manage their stress so it feels less difficult for them. First, trying to identify what things are urgent and which things are not as important as you thought up front and which you can push off to the back burner. I absolutely agree that stress itself does not cause cancer. However, it can really mess up your day. If you do experience chronic stress and anxiety, you may receive significant help from an appropriate choice of medication. Talk to your doctor or people in your life that bring reassurance to you and see what they can do working with you to make the stress in your life better, just so that the quality of your life can be improved.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Dealing With Breast Cancer Fears featured Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about aspects of breast cancer that cause concern.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2002.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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