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Job stress boosts breast cancer risk

Stressful jobs and graveyard shift, coupled with other factors, raise the risk of the disease in women, says a study.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, London
UPDATED ON OCT 03, 2007 06:56 PM IST

An advice for working women, particularly those who do the graveyard shift -- just don't let job stress wreck your health. Yes, according to a study by researchers in Europe, women who feel stressed at work could be at a dramatically increased risk of developing breast cancer, the Daily Mail reported here today.

In fact, the study found women in demanding jobs and those who do the night shift are 30 per cent more likely to develop the disease than those who feel on top of their work.

"Work stress could also potentially weaken the immune system," lead researcher Dr Hannah Kuper, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was quoted by the daily as saying.

The researchers came to the conclusion after examining the data on 36,000 Swedish women aged between 30 and 50 who were in work when the study started in 1990. The research followed the women until 2004, by which time 767 of them had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the findings, the risk of breast cancer increased by around 30 per cent for women with stressful jobs after other factors, such as alcohol consumption, number of children, weight, and age, were taken into consideration.

The reason why stress might increase the risk is unclear, although the study indicates that it may raise levels of the hormone oestrogen which heighten the risk of cancer.

Another theory is that stress changes women's behaviour, making them adopt unhealthy habits such as smoking and not doing regular exercises. However, the results of the latest study contradict previous research which has not found a link between stress and breast cancer.

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