Does stress cause cancer? | Women's Agenda

Does stress cause cancer?

You may have the most demanding, high-pressured, anxiety-provoking and nerve-racking job in the whole wide world but all that stress won’t cause cancer!

This uplifting news comes from Europe where researchers followed over 100,000 people for an average of 12 years and found that those who reported significant job strain were no more likely to develop cancer than those who were happy in their work.

This finding is backed up by other large studies that have found leading a stressful life in general doesn’t put you at any greater risk of cancer than somebody who is completely laidback and chilled out all the time.

Nonetheless, living with high levels of stress is not without its problems, significantly increasing your chances of developing anxiety and depression which can wreak havoc on your personal life and even your ability to hold down a job.

So stress is bad, bad, bad … but it won’t cause cancer.

Here’s another interesting fact: Not working is far worse for us than holding down a stressful job or a really, really boring one which can be highly stressful in itself.

The detrimental psychological impact of long-term unemployment is well documented but now heart disease and respiratory conditions are known health problems for those out of work, regardless of their lifestyle.

So, being out of work with its associated stresses and strains is truly awful on so many levels but it does not increase your risk of cancer either.

Ok then, in the absence of evidence why do so many of us think stress makes us more susceptible to cancer?

One reason put forward is that those who are stressed tend towards unhealthy lifestyle choices but this does not make stress itself a cancer risk factor.

Instead these things do: Smoking, being overweight, not exercising, eating badly, too much sun exposure and excessive drinking.

So the moral of the story is keep working no matter how stressful or boring your job, cut down on your drinking, keep out of the sun, throw away the fags, go for lots of walks, manage your weight and stop stressing that being stressed will give you cancer!

Oh, and try to have a bit of fun too!

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