Links between private habits, psychological stress and brain cancer: a case-control pilot study in France

J Neurooncol. 2011 Jun;103(2):307-16. doi: 10.1007/s11060-010-0388-1. Epub 2010 Sep 11.


Numerous studies have increasingly suggested that medical history and lifestyle factors could be involved in the increase of cancer risk in adults. The issue whether psychological factors can influence the development of cancer has been discussed for many years. In the field of brain cancer, psychological stress has not so far been investigated. We conducted a French case-control pilot study with 122 adult incident cases and 122 controls free of any cancer diagnosis, matched for age and gender, to investigate links between malignant primitive brain tumours (MPBT) and medical history, private habits and psychological stress. Data were collected through self-administered questionnaires, and person-to-person interviews. To complete the psychological stress assessment, 100-mm visual analog scales were used. After adjustment for confounders, we found no significant effect of head trauma, aspartame, tobacco or alcohol consumption, place (rural or urban) of residence, sociodemographic data, and experience of psychological stress at work/home. Our results showed a significant association between MPBT risk and major life events over the past 5 years before diagnosis (OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.13-3.20), family histories of cancer (OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.12-3.22), fresh vegetable and fruit intake (OR = 0.29, 95% CI 0.09-0.95), and skipped meals several times per week (OR = 0.35, 95% CI 0.16-0.77). The present study suggests the role of genetic factors in glioma risk, and also suggests that an acute and sudden psychological stress might influence MPBT appearance. Additional large clinical studies are needed to confirm these findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult