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Women who experience high levels of stress may be more likely to receive a breast cancer test that indicates they have an aggressive form of the disease. Researchers from the University of Illinois found a strong link between anxiety and breast cancer severity.
The team was quick to point out that their findings do not mean that stress causes cancer to become more deadly. It is unclear whether anxiety influences the progression of breast cancer or if a positive cancer test that reveals a serious condition makes women more stressed.
Still, after analyzing the medical records of 989 women with breast cancer and surveying the participants about their stress levels, the researchers found that those with higher levels of anxiety were much more likely have aggressive and potentially life-threatening forms of cancer. Additionally, the team found that Hispanics and African Americans were more likely to report stress.
The researchers said more investigation is needed to determine whether stress causes aggressive cancer or if it is the other way around. Answering this question could yield more effective treatments for both components of cancer.
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