The more stress you have, the faster you die? Scientific study: bad moods can really kill you

The latest Global Cancer Burden 2020 data released by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) shows that 19.29 million new cancer cases will occur worldwide in 2020, including 4.57 million new cancer cases in China, accounting for 23.7 percent of the global total.

Cancer, a malady that is difficult to cure. In China, the number of people suffering from the threat of cancer is also increasing. However, you can often hear a statement - "Many cancer patients should not have died, but were scared to death by themselves". This is not an alarmist statement, but it is true. Outside of the disease itself, emotions are very important for cancer treatment.

The more pressure, the faster you die

There is a strong correlation between the perception of stress and the course of the disease in cancer patients. It can even be said that the more stressful it is, the faster you die.

The more stress you have, the faster you die? Scientific study: bad moods can really kill you

The UK's Daily Mail website has published a study that found a surprising correlation between physical and mental stress in cancer patients and the rate of cancer spread - high levels of stress lead to five times faster spread of cancer. Not only that, but stress also affects the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

Stress can affect chemotherapy and immunotherapy in cancer patients

A study published in NatureMedicine suggests that in cases of excessive mental stress, nerves reprogram dendritic cells, inhibiting the anti-tumor immune response and ultimately making chemotherapy and immunotherapy less effective.

The more stress you have, the faster you die? Scientific study: bad moods can really kill you

Stress can also affect targeted therapy for cancer patients

And in a study from MD Anderson Cancer Center, it was stated that when a person senses the presence of stress in other parts of the body (such as the lungs or blood vessels), those same stresses are also present on tumor cells and can activate those cancer cells and affect targeted therapy.

Many people worry too much about the stress caused by drug resistance during targeted therapy, which will accelerate the development of drug resistance and thus reduce the effectiveness of targeted therapy.

The greater the mood swings, the worse the treatment

In addition to the ability to resist stress, cancer patients' own emotional management ability, or their own personality, is also closely related to the development of cancer treatment and healing.

Cancer personality

More likely to develop cancer

There is a personality called "C-type personality" also called "cancer (CANCER) personality". The biggest characteristic of this group of people is not the "irritability" that we imagine, but rather "bun personality" "good old boy". They can not regulate their own emotions, often suppress their pain, anger and do not express to the outside, often in order to harmonious situation and tolerance.

However, such a personality is more likely to develop cancer because long-term bad mood and stress will lead to the release of some neurotransmitters and hormones in the body's brain, which will act on the hypothalamus-pituitary system, reduce the body's immune function, lower the DNA's self-repair ability, and make the body's ability to kill and correct cancer cells decrease, thus inducing cancer.

Studies have found that these people have a higher incidence of tumors than the average person, and 40%-80% of common cancer patients (such as stomach cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.) have C-type personality traits such as frequent suppression of bad emotions, sulking, and easy anger.

The more stress you have, the faster you die? Scientific study: bad moods can really kill you

Cancer Emotions

More impactful treatment

Harsh emotions and hyperthymesia can easily interfere with healing. This mainly comes from two aspects, one is that bad emotions can promote tumor growth and the other is that it can destroy the body's immune system.

  • Bad moods can affect the patient's treatment outcome. In the case of breast cancer, for example, bad emotions can lead to increased secretion of catecholamines hormones, which stimulate vascular endothelial growth factor expression in breast cancer cells, leading to tumor angiogenesis and promoting tumor development and drug resistance.
  • At the same time, bad moods reduce the activity of the body's natural killer cells and also increase the level of glucocorticoid secretion, which inhibits the function of lymphocytes and macrophages, doubly reducing people's immunity.

So in general, the regulation of emotions and stress in cancer patients is an issue that needs a lot of attention.

Emotion regulation, all parties need to contribute

The emotional and stress crisis of cancer patients is a complex crisis of a society-wide nature. From physical health, to the treatment process, to the financial situation, it is something that requires concerted effort and observation from all parties.

According to a study by Liu Xiaohong and Xiao Shuihui, a professor at Xiangya Medical College of Central South University, about 20% to 40% of cancer patients have had suicidal ideation.

There are many reasons that trigger suicidal ideation in cancer patients

  • The first is physical illness and depression. Many researchers point out that unlike other types of pain, cancer pain is a physical affliction beyond the understanding and imagination of normal people and ordinary patients.
  • In addition to suffering from cancer pain, some cancer patients also suffer from depressive mood or depression. Many people do not have a clear scientific understanding of cancer before they are diagnosed.
  • In addition to this, the high cost of treatment is also a major factor that seriously affects the emotions of cancer patients. Many rural families are on the verge of collapse when they fall ill because of financial reasons.

Therefore, in the middle of the psychological adjustment of cancer patients, a multifaceted assistance is needed to participate.

The first thing for cancer patients themselves to be aware of is the issue of multiple thoughts. Cancer patients are prone to ruminative rumination, a phenomenon in which individuals who have faced stress or experienced a traumatic event think repeatedly about the stressful event.

Ruminative contemplation is divided into purposeful ruminant contemplation and intrusive ruminant contemplation

  • Purposeful ruminative contemplation is the process of purposeful, active thinking by individuals who have experienced a traumatic event to understand the event, construct its meaning and solve the problem, and reconceptualize themselves.
  • Intrusive ruminative contemplation is where the traumatized individual adopts a passive, reactive thought process about the event.

In general, patients with long-standing religious beliefs or good family relationships or higher levels of literacy and more generous economic conditions are less likely to engage in invasive ruminative contemplation because of good risk tolerance and psychological anchoring.

However, patients themselves can also choose to face the disease with as open a mind as possible, learn more, cooperate more and self-regulate.

The more stress you have, the faster you die? Scientific study: bad moods can really kill you

Here are a few for cancer patients

Tips for self-adjustment


Be proactive in recognizing and understanding the disease.

The first task in overcoming fear is to eliminate ignorance. The better the understanding of one's disease, the more actively one can cooperate with the doctor's treatment and achieve the desired results. Confronting the disease can help patients eliminate their fears, and constant learning can divert the stress of being threatened by the disease.


Maintain healthy habits, such as exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Aerobic exercise can help mental health by reducing negative reactions (such as anxiety and depression) and increasing positive reactions (such as improving self-esteem and energy) to achieve the ability to improve mood. Oncology patients can choose more moderate aerobic exercises such as walking, Tai Chi, yoga, etc., which can also enhance physical fitness. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce stress. People who eat at least 470 grams of fruits and vegetables per day have 10% lower stress levels than those who eat less than 230 grams.


Talk more, communicate more, and brood less.

People who are sufficiently social are more likely to receive moral support from the outside world and can reduce unnecessary intrusive ruminative ruminations; socializing is a good emotional outlet.

In general, the panic of cancer lies in all aspects, but it is unfortunate enough to have cancer and one should not miss one's chance to live because of bad emotions. Face it positively and there is no spring that will not come.



[2] Yang, H., Xia, L., Chen, J. et al. Stress-glucocorticoid-TSC22D3 axis compromises therapy induced antitumor immunity. Nat Med 25, 1428-1441(2019)。。

[3] Li Qiuhuan Zhao Wenwen Tian Ruxiang Luan Xiaorong. An investigation study on the current situation and influencing factors of ruminative rumination during hospitalization in young and middle-aged cancer patients[J] Chinese Journal of Nursing.July 2019. Vol. 54, No. 7. p1038-1043.