I have often written about stress and how important it is to reduce it in your life. Now there has been research that has linked the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenalin) to actual changes in prostate and breast cancer cells.

Exposure to increasing levels of epinephrine seems to make these cancer cells resistant to treatment. It is highly suggestive that we need to learn how to reduce our body’s production of epinephrine.

Clearly, not entering into stressful situations is a start. We should start to use the many complimentary forms of treatment that will help us to relax and limit our production epinephrine. Message, acupuncture, yoga, relaxation training and biofeedback are just a few of the pathways to reducing stress.

According to George Kulik, the senior researcher on this study,
(J. Biol. Chem, 10.1074/jbc.M611370200
Konduru S.R. Sastry, Yelena Karpova, Sergey Prokopovich, Adrienne J. Smith,
Brian Essau, Avynash Gersappe, Jonathan P. Carson, Michael J. Weber, Thomas
C. Register, Yong Q. Chen, Raymond B. Penn, and George Kulik. Cancer
Biology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC 27157 ), emotional stress may contribute to the development of cancer and also reduce the effectiveness of treatment.

Kulik and his team found evidence that epinephrine reduces sensitivity of
cancer cells to the cancer-fighting process of apoptosis (programmed celled
death). Aptosis in a healthy person prompts damaged or aging cells to
self-destruct before they can grow into tumors. Even if cancer does develop,
various treatments can help shrink tumors or limit growth and spread as long
as apoptosis can be maintained or restored.

Anti-apoptotic signaling by epinephrine could be one of the mechanisms by
which stress promotes tumorigenesis and decreases the efficacy of
anti-cancer therapies, Kulik says.

A team in Ohio found recently in ovarian cancer that norepinephrine, a related stress hormone,
can stimulate tumor cells to produce compounds that break down the tissue
around tumor cells and allow the cells to more easily move into the

“A study from Canada showed that men who took beta blockers for hypertension
for at least four years had an 18 percent lower risk of prostate cancer,”
said Kulik. “These drugs block the effects of epinephrine, which could
explain the finding.

Another study of men after radical prostatectomy
reported increased mood disturbances, which are often associated with
elevated stress hormones. Although these studies do not directly address the
role of stress hormones, they suggest that stress hormones may play an important role in prostate cancer.”

Bottom line, REDUCE STRESS and take advantage of therapies that also help to REDUCE STRESS.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW