Up until recently, the “official” answer from NIH and others has been that there is not been any study that conclusively links stress as a direct cause of cancer. The National Cancer Institute fact sheet says,
“Although the results of some studies have indicated a link between various psychological factors and an increased risk of developing cancer, a direct cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven.” Here is a link to that source:http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/stress
An article in the New York Times regarding the link between stress and cancer says,
“What has emerged is a tenuous connection between stress, the immune system and cancer, with a surprising new insight that is changing the direction of research: it now appears that cancer cells make proteins that actually tell the immune system to let them alone and even to help them grow. As for whether stress causes cancer, the question is still open.” Here is the link to this source:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/29/health/29canc.html?pagewanted=all
An article in PychCentral regarding this matter says,
“Currently, there is no evidence that stress is a direct cause of cancer. But evidence is accumulating that there is some link between stress and developing certain kinds of cancer, as well as how the disease progresses. Hundreds of studies have measured how stress impacts our immune systems and fights disease. At Ohio State University, researcher Dr. Ron Glaser, Ph.D., found that students under pressure had slower-healing wounds and took longer to produce immune system cells that kill invading organisms. Renowned researcher Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D., who has spent 20 years examining the effects of stress on the body, found that stress-reduction techniques could actually help reverse heart disease. And Dr. Barry Spiegel, M.D., a leader in the field of psychosomatic medicine, found that metastatic breast cancer patients lived longer when they participated in support groups.
Other studies have gone as far as to show those women who experienced traumatic life events or losses in previous years had significantly higher rates of breast cancer.
Still, the National Cancer Institute reports, “Although studies have shown that stress factors, such as death of a spouse, social isolation, and medical school examinations, alter the way the immune system functions, they have not provided scientific evidence of a direct cause-and-effect relationship between these immune system changes and the development of cancer.”
Nonetheless, some medical experts say therein lies the link between cancer and stress — if stress decreases the body’s ability to fight disease, it loses the ability to kill cancer cells.” Link to source:http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/stress-a-cause-of-cancer/
However, a study in 2010 published in Nature was reported by Newsmaxhealth saying,
“Stress is a killer and is implicated in numerous deadly conditions including high blood pressure and heart attacks. Now scientists have biological evidence that common, everyday stress can trigger cancer.
A new study by Yale University School of Medicine and Fudan University in China shows that stress causes signals to be sent to mutant genes that make them turn cancerous.” Source:http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/stress_cause_cancer/2010/01/28/312526.html
All the above being said regarding the “evidence” linking stress and cancer; my own experience is that I frequently see patients with cancer seeking help with hypnosis to boost their immune system, overcome side-effects of treatment, control pain, and make changes to a healthier lifestyle. And in the majority of these cases it is most common to see where prolonged and chronic stress (along with lifestyles with poor stress coping skills) have existed prior to the diagnosis of cancer. There are cases also where I have seen individuals experience ‘better healing’ responses by adding the mind-body tools available through hypnosis and lifestyle changes. I think that anyone diagnosed with cancer would benefit from learning many varieties of stress management, including hypnosis to access and use the mind-body connection for positive messages, images, and intentions for healing and stress-resiliency.