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Various researchers have tried to reveal the mystery and chemistry of cancer, but they have not yet succeeded in finding out what exactly causes cancer. Various studies were conducted and are still being conducted hoping that the reports would shed more light on the connection between stress and cancer. Though no study report establishes a direct cause-and-effect relationship between stress and cancer, many studies show that excessive stress may increase the risk of developing cancer, just as it increases the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, and infertility.

How Can Stress Cause Cancer

Teenagers experience 'exam stress' or stress due to divorce of parents. Job stress has become an invariable part of modern lifestyle. Our body has its own ways of fighting stress. Various hormones such as adrenalin, dopamine, cortisol, noradrenalin, and endorphins are released into blood when you are under stress, and they determine the 'fight or flight' reaction of the body.

Weak Immune System
The abnormal growth of cells in the body is referred to as cancer. These cells invade healthy tissues and organs, eventually leading to death of the person. The exact cause of cancer is not yet known. Certain genetic and environmental factors increase the risk of having cancer. Developing an illness is a sign of weakened immune system. If your immune system is strong, you can prevent abnormal growth of cells just as you can prevent the growth of viruses and bacteria. Stress affects the functioning of the endocrine, digestive, and immune system, in fact every system. It also worsens the symptoms of existing diseases and disorders. The chances of development of cancer are more if the immune system is not functioning well. Some cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma and some lymphomas are caused by viruses. A strong immune system helps prevent these cancers.

Other Adverse Effects of Stress
Effects of stress on health include physiological, psychological and behavioral changes such as constant headache, insomnia, back pain, chest pain, loss of appetite, upset stomach, high heart rate, high blood pressure, fluctuations in blood glucose levels, anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, restlessness, lack of concentration, etc. Side effects of stress also include increased forgetfulness, overeating, weight gain, obesity which can lead to cardiovascular diseases and also to cancer in some cases.

Overstressed people feel unsecured and think that they have to live within the unhappy circumstances forever. They need to take the initiative to change their situation. But usually, they tend to drink more alcohol or tend to consume drugs or smoke more. All these bad habits increase their risk of developing cancer.

Stress Management

Various factors, for example, financial problems, relationship issues, parental conflict, busy lifestyle, exposure to abusive relationships, loss of any precious object or beloved, loss of a job, major lifestyle changes, competition in every field, lack of nutrients, etc., are responsible for increased level of stress. Those who feel overstressed and helpless may find use of stress relievers beneficial. But they need to consult their physician for this. Sufficient rest and sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, a positive attitude, time management can help avoid stress. And, you need to accept the fact that sometimes things are beyond control. Children as well as adults should learn stress management techniques and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.

Study Reports

It is difficult to answer the question, "does stress cause cancer" as more research is needed to prove the answer. We all are aware of the mind-body relationship and how stress adversely affects some functions of the immune system, temporarily. But there is no evidence to date that stress causes cancer.

A recent study which involved animal models showed that release of stress hormones by the body influences the behavior of the cancer cells. Some studies which involved cancer patients, suggested that negative emotions can lead to fast growth or spread of cancer. Your personality traits determine how you would deal with cancer. It is true that you cannot avoid stress completely. But you can definitely handle it skillfully and can avoid the serious impact of stress on health.

It is equally true that stress is sometimes essential to bring the best in you as a little stress makes you alert and focused. So having stress is not always bad. A completely stress-free life may perhaps make you lazy and unproductive. But, it is better to take precautions and avoid 'excessive' stress.