Psychological Stress and Cellular Aging in Cancer: A Meta-Analysis

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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity


Background. Epidemiological evidence continues to accumulate on the effect of psychosocial and behavioral factors in relation to cancer risk, progression, and mortality. Material and Methods. This article presents the current evidence on the relationship between psychological stress and the risk of cancer and cellular aging process. Ten databases were searched to identify publications up to September 2019. References from retrieved articles were also reviewed. We included nine review papers and 26 cohort or case-control studies based on inclusion/exclusion criteria. Results. Results of previously published review articles did not show consistent evidence for the association between cancer risk and psychological stress, while previous evidence is stronger regarding the role of chronic psychological stress on cancer growth and metastasis and aging. In seven observational studies, severe life events, anxiety, depression, insufficient social support perception, or avoiding coping strategy were significantly associated with breast cancer risk. For other specific types of cancer, 11 studies reported increased risk factors for stressful life events, and two others found increased mortality or a decline in treatment adherence. Conclusions. Recent epidemiological evidence generally suggests psychosocial factors may be considered risk factors for specific types of cancer and play a key role in the cellular aging process. Understanding molecular mechanisms of the stress interaction is important in cancer management and prevention. The psychological stressors should be considered when developing or evaluating change in psychosocial practice.



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