|Can stress lead to Cancer?
Mar 30, 2003
Dear sir, I have been under incredible stress over the last 6 months whilst waiting for my final HIV test, I am thankful that I have the all clear, however over the last few weeks I have started to suffer from night sweats, permanent sweating under my armpits and a sore stomach area, both to touch and a constant feeling of aching, both my eating habits, bowel and urine movements seem pertty normal.
My doctoer believes this is all down to the anxiety that I have suffered over a long period of time, however I am not convinced, and having read that stress can lead to cancer was wondering if you could give me a view of what I could consider doing next.
I realise its impossible for you to carry out any sort of diagnosis, but any help or suggestion would be appreciated.
Response from Dr. Dezube
Your query falls under the category of "worried well"; folks who are HIV negative, but are terribly terribly worried and anxious. Thebody.com asks us not to answer such queries. We get tons of them daily! Please note that we in no way are minimizing that pain and discomfort caused by such anxiety, which can be enormous.
I am answering one piece of your query. Can stress lead to cancer? This is a question which many researchers, clinicians, and patients want to know. Most clinicians have seen or heard cases of patients who are under extreme stress (e.g. after the loss of a spouse) and then come down with cancer. The final word on this subject is not in. I will give you my opinion, which is that extreme stress can indeed lead to disturbances in the immune system and that these disturbances in turn can cause on rare occasions certain types of cancer to develop. That how I feel. The medical literature has articles for and against this theory.
Can the anxiety of HIV testing cause cancer??-- no one knows. I imagine that this would NOT be enough to cause a cancer diagnsosis.
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