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Stress lowers the effectiveness of cancer drugs


Cancer patients should urgently avoid any stress
Most people may have heard that too much stress is bad for your health. Researchers have now found that stress also plays an extremely important role in the treatment of cancer. Reducing stress in cancer therapy is very important because stress hormones can stop cancer cells from responding to treatment.

The University of Brighton researchers found that stress hormones can reduce the success of cancer therapies. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Breast Cancer Research".

Stress hormones can make cancer treatments ineffective
A cancer diagnosis is an extremely stressful time for those affected because they hear the bad news about their illness for the first time, the experts say. The problem is that stress hormones can make the treatment ineffective. Due to stress, the cancer cells no longer divide and do not respond to the treatment.

Stress hormones protect growing tumors from treatment
It may sound good that the cancer cells no longer divide, but the lack of division is more of a disadvantage for the treatment of cancer. Instead, the hormones protect the growing tumors from the cancer drugs that are administered to the patients, the doctors explain. When treating cancer, so-called stress relief therapy is therefore necessary to promote the success of the medication and treatment methods, the experts further explain. The stress hormones can no longer block the effects of some chemotherapy drugs.

Coping with stress early is important for people with cancer
In their investigation, the researchers analyzed how chemotherapy drugs responded to stress hormones. Because the diagnosis of breast cancer is a cause of a lot of stress. This alone is an important reason for early stress management, explains the author Dr. Melanie Flint. The expert added that increasing stress hormones or possibly related changes in the receptors could also influence treatment by chemotherapy. Every patient with a newly diagnosed cancer should be aware of the associated stress and those affected should be offered and explained possible options for reducing stress, explains Dr. Flint.

Many drugs used to treat cancer affect dividing cells
Many chemotherapy drugs specifically affect rapidly dividing cells. The research team found that stress hormones (such as cortisol and norepinephrine) exposed to breast cancer cells were destructive, producing DNA-damaging molecules, also known as free radicals. This causes the cells to temporarily slow down their cell division when DNA repair mechanisms occur. The effect protects the tumors, for example, from the action of the drug paclitaxel, the researchers say.

Yoga and beta blockers can avoid stress
Another finding of the study was that mice with breast cancer produced higher concentrations of a nitrogen oxide-producing enzyme (iNOS) in their tumors, the scientists explain. Greater iNOS activity has been linked to the appearance of aggressive breast cancer. So it is clear that stress should definitely be avoided in patients with cancer. Medications for stress hormones, such as beta blockers, could help cancer patients. Practices such as meditation and yoga can also relieve those affected of stress, the experts explain. (as)

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