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Can Stress Cause Cancer?

  • May 07, 2019

For many; stress, unfortunately has become a part of the daily life and it has a profound impact on how body’s system functions.

There are two types of stress. Short-term or acute stress depends on the situation and it tends to pass away or subsides as the event passes.

Long-term or chronic stress may last many weeks or months with no definite end point and it has long-lasting damaging effect on health. Chronic stress has been associated with pathogenesis of diseases, including cancer.

Chronic stress activates signalling pathways in cancer cells and tumour microenvironment, leading to tumour growth and progression.

Stress may have negative impact on cancer, stress however does not increase the risk of cancer as per studies.

Research that combines the results from many different studies, called meta-analyses, can often provide the most reliable indication of cancer risk.

A meta-analysis from 2013, including over 100,000 people, found no link between stress and increased risk of bowel, lung, breast or prostate cancers, which are some of the most common cancers in several parts of the world.

All these evidences state that stress is not directly responsible for causing cancer. But, people under stressful conditions may resort to unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating or heavy drinking which can lead to cancer. Thus, stress could indirectly increase your cancer risk.

Developed by Scientific Angle brought to you by Health Meter Services.

Disclaimer: Don’t follow any suggestions in this article without consulting a qualified doctor


  1. Smith M, Lutgendorf S and Sood A. Impact of stress on cancer metastasis. Futur Oncol. 2010; 6(12): 1863-81.
  2. Cancer Research UK. Stress. Available from Accessed on [5th May, 2019]