Worrywarts, fidgety folk and the naturally nervy may have a real cause for concern: accelerated cancer. In a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, anxiety-prone mice developed more severe cancer then their calm counterparts. The study, published online in PLoS ONE, found that after hairless mice were dosed with ultraviolet rays, the nervous ones - with a penchant for reticence and risk aversion - developed more tumors and invasive cancer. Consistent anxiety also came with sensitivity to chronic stress and a dampened immune system. Though other researchers have already linked chronic stress to higher risks for cancer and other maladies, the study is the first to biologically connect the personality trait of high anxiety to greater cancer threats.
A recent issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, reports that men who care for a wife with breast cancer suffer a measurable negative impact on their health up to years after their wife's cancer has been diagnosed and treatment has been completed. According to the study, men who reported the highest levels of stress, due to their wives' illness, had the highest risk for physical symptoms and weaker immune responses. The researchers decided to determine the health effects of a recurrence of breast cancer on patients' male caregivers and discovered that the level of stress the men suffered, with regard to their wives' cancer, had a greater impact on their health than the current status of their wives' disease. Leading researcher, Dr. Sharla Wells-Di Gregorio, who is assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, states that the findings suggest that clinicians who care for breast cancer patients should also take their caregiver's health into account, for instance, by screening caregivers for stress symptoms and encouraging participation in stress management, relaxation of other self-care activities.
A new study presented at a psychology conference in London this week suggests students who bring water to drink while they sit exams may improve their grades, presumably by keeping themselves hydrated. The findings are the work of researchers from the University of East London and the University of Westminster and were presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in London on Wednesday. Dr Chris Pawson, school Leader in Learning and Teaching and a senior lecturer within the School of Psychology at the University of East London, told the media: "The results imply that the simple act of bringing water into an exam was linked to an improvement in students' grades." While the study did not investigate the reasons behind the results, Pawson speculated there might be several possible physiological and psychological explanations, one being that there might be a direct physiological effect of hydration on thinking ability, and the other, that consuming water might help students calm down and reduce the anxiety that is known to damage exam performance.
A cellular protein called HDAC6, newly characterized as a gatekeeper of steroid biology in the brain, may provide a novel target for treating and preventing stress-linked disorders, such as (PTSD), according to research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Glucocorticoids are natural steroids secreted by the body during stress. A small amount of these hormones helps with normal brain function, but their excess is a precipitating factor for stress-related disorders. Glucocorticoids exert their effects on mood by acting on receptors in the nucleus of emotion-regulating neurons, such as those producing the neurotransmitter serotonin. For years, researchers have searched for ways to prevent deleterious effects of stress by blocking glucocorticoids in neurons.
Stress And How Breast Cancer Patients Manage It Can Affect Brain Function Even Before Chemotherapy Begins
Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer can experience cognitive declines, such as decreased verbal fluency or loss of memory and attention. Often experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy, the declines have become known as "chemo brain." However, a health psychologist at the University of Missouri says "chemo brain" isn't always to blame. Stephanie Reid-Arndt, an associate professor and chair of the Health Psychology Department in the MU School of Health Professions, found that women who had undergone surgery for breast cancer but who had not yet received chemotherapy or hormone-replacement therapy experienced similar cognitive deficits as women undergoing chemotherapy. Patients who were stressed and had passive coping strategies to deal with their stress were more likely to experience cognitive declines.