Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stress makes prostate cancer thrive

Credit: Morguefile
Researchers have repeatedly found stress can lead to poor outcomes for cancer patients. A new study finds prostate cancer cells thrive on stress.

The finding, published in the journal of Clinical Investigation, looked at the role of stress and prostate cancer progression in mice, in studies led by George Kulik at Wake Forest University.

The researchers exposed mice to the scent of a predator to induce stress. They found the rodents failed to respond to drugs that treat the disease; compared to mice not subjected to stress.

When the researchers injected mice with adrenaline they discovered the stress hormone blocked cancer cell death.

The study also revealed drugs that block the stress signalling pathway - such as beta blockers that are widely used to treat heart disease and hypertension - reversed the effect.

Researchers say more studies are needed before beta blocker drugs are recommended to boost cancer therapy. The finding isn't the first to suggest the drugs might be good therapy for cancer.

Researchers are exploring whether the beta blockers can help breast cancer patients survive longer, found in small studies.

Other research has suggested the drugs might help slow melanoma growth.

The newest finding adds to past studies that stress leads to physiologic changes that can thwart cancer treatment. Prostate cancer seems to be no exception. Finding ways to block stress that normally occurs for anyone undergoing treatment could lead to better outcomes.

Journal of Clinical Investigation
January 25, 2013