Mouse study reveals how chronic stress promotes breast cancer stem cells, identifies vitamin C as effective therapy

Keith W. Kelley, Professor Emeritus of Immunophysiology,

Date

02/18/19
Keith W. Kelley, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Immunophysiology University of Illinois Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

URBANA, Ill. – Cancer: The word alone evokes dread, anxiety, and fear. Accordingly, many women living with the disease and undergoing treatment experience chronic stress and depression. Scientists have demonstrated, in studies with rodents and humans, that stress can exacerbate cancer’s progression, but it wasn’t clear how.

A new study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, establishes that the stress hormone epinephrine sets off a cascade of biochemical reactions that favor breast cancer growth and spread.

In the study, the researchers first demonstrated the effects of chronic stress on cancer stem cell growth, a novel twist on previous research that did not specifically focus on these self-perpetuating cells.

“You can kill all the cells you want in a tumor, but if the stem cells, or mother cells, are not killed, then the tumor is going to grow and metastasize. This is one of the first studies to link chronic stress specifically with the growth of breast cancer stem cells,” says Keith Kelley, emeritus professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois, and an author on the study.  Read More

or for The Journal of Clinical Investigation article:  "Stress-induced epinephrine enhances lactate dehydrogenase A and promotes breast cancer stem-like cells"

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