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Stress and Breast Cancer Study

David Spiegel at Stanford School of Medicine
Study abstract

Recent research provides evidence that disrupted circadian rhythms are associated with increased risk of breast cancer incidence and faster progression to mortality. There is also recent evidence that abnormal clock genes are associated with cancer. Our data and those of others increasingly point toward disrupted circadian cycles having an effect on the body’s resistance to cancer. But a number of important questions remain unanswered. We therefore propose to study coping with stress and associated sleep disruption as a prognostic factor in the progression of metastatic breast cancer, and in association with disrupted circadian patterns of cortisol, CRF, ACTH, prolactin, and melatonin, as well as measures of immune function. We plan to recruit 105 women with metastatic breast cancer and 20 age and SES-matched controls for a 28-hour sleep study in the General Clinical Research Center. This study has the potential to link mind and body in cancer through a careful examination of differences in coping with the inevitable stressors associated with cancer as they affect circadian sleep, hormonal, and immune cycles and potentially cancer progression.

Study review

This study at Stanford University, in Calif., is investigating the relationships between psychological factors such as stress, quality of sleep, hormones, immunity, and cancer progression. The researchers wanted to enroll at least 125 volunteers. The Call to Action for this study was sent to Army of Women members on September 2, 2009. The researchers were able to close enrollment on April 11, 2011, after the Army of Women provided them with 363 women who were interested in enrolling in the study.

Resulting Publications: