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Women whose family history and dietary habits put them at risk for breast cancer may benefit from cortisol testing. A new study has found that stress can elevate the risk of developing the disease further.
Researchers from the Johnsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles found that persistent stress can reprogram the body's immune cells, turning them into carriers of tumor cells, which promotes the spread of the cancer.
"What we showed for the first time is that chronic stress causes cancer cells to escape from the primary tumor and colonize distant organs," said Erica Sloan, who led the investigation. "We not only showed that this happens, but we showed how stress talks to the tumor and helps it to spread."
Additionally, researchers found that beta blockers - medications used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions of the cardiovascular system - may be effective in preventing these immune cells from being reprogrammed to promote the progression of cancer.
Sloan said that future studies would focus on the effect in the hopes of finding more effective cancer treatments.
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