Healthy Beginnings

How stress can influence the development of breast cancer

Experts suggest that women who repress their emotions may be more likely to show disruptions in their normal balance of the stress hormone cortisol. Courtesy photo

Breast cancer is a common cancer that affects women. Although not that prevalent, breast cancer can also occur among men.

There are numerous evidences that negative emotions can trigger breast cancer — especially in women who are suffering from deep hurt, considering the fact that the breast area is affiliated with the heart chakra.

According to a 2005 article in the journal “Discovery Medicine,” once the release of the stress hormones is triggered, this may bring on changes in the immune system that may affect the endocrine system, leading to estrogen-stimulated cancers (such as breast cancer).

When there is no expression of the negative feelings, it can lead to physical illness over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that 85 percent of all diseases have an emotional entity, including breast cancer.

A team of researchers at Stanford University in California found that women who repressed their emotions were more likely to show disruptions in their normal balance of the stress hormone cortisol. Fluctuations of this can predict early death in women with breast cancer that has spread to other areas of the body, according to a 2010 article about the study published in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology.”

The Journal of Psychosomatic Research, meanwhile, states that extreme suppression of anger was the most commonly identified characteristic of 160 breast cancer patients who were given a detailed psychological interview and self-administered questionnaire. Repressed anger magnified exposure to physiological stress, thus increased risk of breast cancer.

And, per information published in the journal “Cancer Nursing: An International Journal for Cancer Care,” extremely low anger scores have been noted in several studies of patients with breast cancer. The low scores correspond to suppression, repression and restraint of anger. Evidences showed that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of breast cancer and influenced its progression.

The six phases on how stress influences the development of breast cancer:

  1. Emotional trauma — affects deep sleep and the production of melatonin. Melatonin is necessary for inhibiting cancer growth and is an immune regulator.
  1. Stress-induced immune system suppression — the immune system is suppressed by the elevation of cortisol. When experiencing severe prolonged emotional stress, there is exhaustion, thus the adrenals and thyroid are affected, which leads to fatigue and depletion of minerals. This affects the immune system to be weaker (this is discussed in depth in a 2004 article in the journal “Psychological Bulletin”).
  1. Stress causes cell glucose to rise — high cortisol levels during stress elevates blood sugar. Insulin resistance ensues which promotes estrogen dominance. This high sugar state stimulates breast cancer by acting as its food source.
  1. Microorganisms enter cells to feed on glucose — pathogenic microbes (viruses, bacteria, fungus) have established themselves in a weakened body and they enter the normal cells to feed on the excess sugar.
  1. Microorganisms and cancer form a symbiotic relationship — pathogenic microbes form a connection with the newly created cancer cells. An example would be that fungus provides a natural fermentation process that occurs within the cell.
  1. Stress stimulates cancer cell growth and metastases — during this final phase, elevated stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine stimulate tumor cells to release three compounds: MMP2, MMP9 (both matrix metalloproteinases) and VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) which triggers the spread of the cancer, according to a 2010 study published in the journal “Future Oncology.”

Melvin Ibarra Nario, M.D., H.M.D., and Corazon Ibarra, MD, HMD, are among the physicians who work at Bio Integrative Health Center International in Reno. Visit or call 775-827-6696 to learn more.