Tag Archive for: chronic stress

How Does Stress Correlate With Your Prostate Cancer Diagnosis?

How Does Stress Correlate With Your Prostate Cancer Diagnosis? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

How do stress and cortisol levels contribute to prostate cancer incidence and aggressiveness in Black men? Dr. Leanne Burnham explains her research studies where they looked specifically at the role of stress in prostate cancer, tumor aggressiveness, and Black men — and also shares research about cortisol levels in African American children.

See More From the Prostate Cancer TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

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What Are Some Hereditary Factors Impacting Prostate Cancer Patients?

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Transcript:

Dr. Leanne Burnham

I have a few publications that look at the role of stress and prostate cancer, tumor aggressiveness, and Black men. And so, I looked at Black men specifically, because I have wondered if Black men who maybe were exposed to more stressors in their lifetime if that had any correlation to Black men getting prostate cancer earlier in their life and getting a more aggressive disease. And so, there were very realistic ways that we were able to look at that in the lab and then also in collaboration with public health colleagues that I have. Because what we know there are studies that show that African American children experience more stress, and their cortisol levels in their bodies are effective much earlier than any other race, and their studies that show the distress begins in the daycare setting based on discrimination that they may have from the adults that are taking care of them in that setting. And so, imagine cumulatively how that looks, and so we have ways that there are validated scales to assess levels of stressors that people have been exposed to. So that could be…what are your finances looking like? Have you been affected by incarceration yourself or anyone in your family? Have you experienced the death of a loved one? Has your home been broken into recently?

There are all kinds of, there are hundreds and hundreds of questions, and we can get to the root of how much stress has somebody been exposed to. And we know that unfortunately, African Americans in this country are exposed to more of these stressors than other demographics, and so what we did was look at the elevated stress, we could look at the cellular level and see, now if we’re growing prostate cancer cells, so that’s what I did. I was growing cancer cells in the lab that were from Black patients and white patients, and I would expose them to stress hormones in the flask, or maybe you like to think of it as kind of like a petri dish, but in the flask where the prostate cancer cells were growing. I would treat them with stress hormones, and then I would look and see do the cells grow differently, do they express genes and proteins differently based on race? And what I found very surprisingly, disturbingly, whichever adverb you want to use, that the African American prostate cancer cells, when they were exposed to stress hormones, the tumor cells became more aggressive, and they up-regulated genes that we know prime a patient to resist therapy.

So, the genes that were up-regulated in these prostate cancer cells are genes that we know, let’s say if a patient were to get chemotherapy, that patient would be more likely to fail that chemotherapy early, which is a terminology we call chemo resistance. And so those are studies right now that have just sort of, they’re newer to the forefront looking at stress and tumor aggressiveness. But there are studies going on nationwide right now involving thousands of African American men participants, where we are looking at the role of stress and what that does in terms of prostate cancer, aggressiveness in Black men specifically, and seeing what we can do to address it. But first we have to acknowledge that the problem is even there, a lot of people don’t think the problem is there, but we are scientists, we think the problem is there. So, we have to get the data to show the public that the problem is there, and then we need to really address the systemic racism that leads to this elevated and chronic stress that other demographics don’t have to deal with, because it’s literally leading to increased disease and increased health disparities. And if that’s something that we can change at some very basic levels, then that will improve health overall.

Notable News | April 2019

You may want to do some yoga, especially if you are experiencing chronic stress. However, you can breath a sigh of relief about the positive research in bladder and prostate cancers reported this month. There’s even some super cool research that involves containing, rather than killing, cancer cells. Check it out.

Chronic stress is not good for anybody, but as livescience.com reports, it may be even more detrimental for cancer patients. Acute stress is normal on occasion to help us avoid danger, but chronic stress, which weakens the immune system, leads to changes in the body that could then lead to the development and progression of cancer. However, experts say we can’t be so fast to draw a link between stress and cancer because of the ways different people respond to stress. Some people are motivated by it; others sickened by it. Some experts believe it may not be the stress that leads to cancer, but rather the poor habits people adopt to cope with stress. While experts don’t yet agree that there is a clear and definitive line between chronic stress and cancer, there is evidence that taking measures to reduce stress is best for overall health. Find out more here.

Speaking of stress, cancer can be stressful. Many patients turn to alternative forms of healing to manage the affects of cancer or treatment, but medicalnewstoday.com says, that may be doing more harm than good. As many as one third of people living with cancer are using alternative or complementary therapies. The most common form of alternative therapies is the use of herbal supplements, which researchers found could be a problem because the ingredients of herbal supplements are not always known, and there is a concern that supplement ingredients could negatively interact with the medicines they are taking. For example, high levels of antioxidants may make radiation less effective. Yoga, however, is the one complementary method of treatment that seemed to help patients. You can learn more about the research involving alternative and complementary therapies here, and decide whether or not those methods are right for you.

Researchers are starting to decide that maybe killing all the cancer cells isn’t the best option for combating cancer, reports medicalnewstoday.com. Cancer cells evolve really fast, and some studies show that there is no way of killing them all. Researchers are looking at a new approach of treating cancer that involves preventing it from developing and spreading by containing it. They hope to use medication to make the cancer cells dormant and keep them that way, which could be useful in cancers, such as breast cancer, which is now considered a chronic cancer because it can come back many years later with secondary tumors. You can learn more about this unique approach here.

Other findings this month bring good news for bladder cancer patients, reports seekingalpha.com. The FDA has approved the Johnson & Johnson drug, Balversa, for patients with metastatic bladder cancer. The approval was based on a trial that resulted in a 32 percent overall response rate. The patients who are eligible for Balversa, have metastatic bladder cancer with specific genetic alterations, but there is hope that it will eventually be tested on other types of cancers. Learn more here.

More good news comes from British scientists who have discovered 17 genes for diagnosing prostate cancer, reports dailymail.co.uk. Combined with the six genes already known to be linked to prostate cancer, there are now 23 genes that can be screened through a spit or blood test. Find more information about the research and what it means for diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer here.

The not-so-good news reported this month is the increase in lung cancer among non-smokers — especially women. An in depth look at this growing issue can be found at theguardian.com here.

The ups and downs of cancer research news can be stressful for anyone, so to alleviate that stress, let’s all stay informed, and maybe take to our yoga mats. Until next month, namaste.