Expert: Stress not cause of breast cancer

March 24, 2011 at 10:24 PM
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MELBOURNE, March 24 (UPI) -- Breast cancer survivors in Australia mistakenly peg stress as the cause of their cancer and underestimate the effect of lifestyle, researchers say.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne found 58 percent of women who had breast cancer say their cancer was caused by stress and 2 percent attributed their breast cancer to lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and alcohol.

Study co-authors Dr. Christine Bennett, chairwoman of the Bupa Health Foundation, and Robin Bell, deputy director of the Women's Health Program at Monash University's Alfred Hospital, says the study involved 1,496 breast cancer survivors who were asked if they believed there was anything that caused them to develop breast cancer.

In those who said they believed there was a cause to their breast cancer, outside of stress, almost 14 percent say their breast cancer was caused by hormone therapy and 10 percent blamed family history, the researchers say.

"While the exact causes of breast cancer are unknown, there is no scientific evidence that points to stress as a cause of breast cancer," Bennett says in a statement. "Reducing stress may be good for general health, but it's not a way of reducing the risk of breast cancer. By maintaining a healthy weight, maintaining a good diet and taking regular exercise we can all reduce the risk of breast cancer and other types of cancers as well."

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