A constant flux of the stress hormone, released by the adrenal glands, could underpin certain forms of prostate and breast cancer. According the George Kulik and his colleages at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, epinephrine can change these cells make them resistant to programmed cell death (apoptosis) and so susceptible to the runaway cell division characteristic of cancer. Moreover, triggering cell death is the basis of cancer therapy.
Levels of epinephrine are chronically raised in the stressed and depressed, so Kulik’s research would suggest that overcoming these two problems might lead to a reduced risk of cancer. Writing in JBC, Kulik says that “Stress may both contribute to the development of cancer and may also reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatments.”