By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - June 03, 2020
You may have heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life.” Well, there may be added truth to those words. A new study out of The Ohio State University suggests breast cancer survivors who are happy with their romantic relationships may be at lower risk for health problems. The reason? Reduced stress.
High stress levels cause inflammation in the body. While inflammation can help promote healing when you’re sick or injured, elevated inflammation over time can increase your risk of cancer recurrence and other illnesses.
"This study illustrates the importance of treating the whole person in cancer care."- Dr. Heather Jim, Co-Leader, Health Outcomes and Behavior Program
“This study illustrates the importance of treating the whole person in cancer care. Results are consistent with other studies suggesting that psychosocial support for women with breast cancer can reduce stress and inflammation and improve quality of life,” said Dr. Heather Jim, co-leader of the Health Outcomes and Behavior Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.
The study evaluated 139 breast cancer survivors over an 18-month period. Women were asked to complete questionnaires and provide blood samples three times. The questionnaires assessed relationship satisfaction and happiness, as well as perceived stress. The blood samples analyzed four circulating markers of inflammation that are linked to health problems such as heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.
The results found that those women who felt more satisfied with their relationships had lower perceived stress and, in turn, lower levels of inflammation.
“It’s important to note that cancer diagnosis and treatment are inherently stressful experiences,” said Jim. “It’s not realistic to eliminate all stress during this time. However, even small steps toward managing stress, such as spending time with friends, exercising, praying or meditating may help patients feel better physically and emotionally.”