Possible role of stress, coping strategies, and life style in the development of breast cancer

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2018 May;53(3):207-220. doi: 10.1177/0091217417749789. Epub 2018 Jan 2.


Objective The aim of the present study was to investigate the possibility of the effect of life long stressful events, along with coping method used, perception of social support, and life style on the development of breast cancer. Methods In this hospital-based case control study, the study group comprised 250 women with breast cancer who were followed by Florence Nightingale Breast Study Group. Control group included 250 women, who had similar sociodemographic characteristics to the study group. Data were collected with semi-structured interview form, Healthy Life Style Behavior Scale, Coping Strategy Indicator, and Stress Evaluation Form developed by us. Results In multivariate analysis, family history of cancer (OR: 1.55, 95% CI: 2.29-1.05), inadequate social support (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.23-2.73), and loss of father during childhood (OR: 2.68, 95% CI: 5.52-1.30) and serious stressor within the last five years (OR: 4.72, 95% CI: 7.03-3.18) were found to be risk factors increasing the risk of breast cancer. When family history of cancer was excluded from the model, the presence of psychiatric disorder history (OR: 1.95, 95% CI: 3.26-1.17) and major life events (OR: 2.24, 95% CI: 4.07-1.24) were added to the model as risk factors. Conclusion The present study indicates that especially the stressful events experienced within the last five years plays an undeniable role in the risk of breast cancer. Social support may be as important in the period before the diagnosis as in the period after diagnosis.

Keywords: breast cancer; coping; life style; risk factors; social support; stressful events.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Life Style*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology