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Being happy or sad may affect cancer risk

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Having a positive frame of mind may offer protection against breast cancer, according to Israeli researchers.

Additionally, adverse life events such as the loss of a parent or close relative, divorce or the loss of a spouse can increase a woman’s risk of developing the disease, they said.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University questioned 255 women with breast cancer and 367 controls about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety and depression prior to diagnosis.

‘We can carefully say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event is a risk factor for breast cancer among young women. On the other hand, a general feeling of happiness and optimism can play a protective role,’ the authors said in the online journal BMC Cancer.

‘Young women who have been exposed to a number of negative life events should be considered an “at-risk” group for breast cancer and should be treated accordingly,’ they said.

However, they added that how behaviour and external events could modulate central nervous, hormonal and immune systems remained little understood.

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