A Little Help from Friends May Slow Cancer Progress
People who have more support from
friends and neighbors may produce less of a growth factor that
can foster cancer spread, according to a study of ovarian cancer
While there is strong evidence that stress, social support and
other behavioral factors can affect a person's immune system,
there has been no research on whether such factors can affect
a person's production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
VEGF helps new blood vessels to form around tumors, which allows
tumors to grow and spread more easily. And higher levels of VEGF
have been linked to worse survival among ovarian cancer patients.
To investigate whether there might be a link between VEGF levels,
social support and depression, Dr. Susan K. Lutgendorf of the
University of Iowa in Iowa City and colleagues studied 24 women
with ovarian cancer and 5 women with non-cancerous pelvic masses.
The cancer patients had not yet had surgery for the condition.
The higher a patient's level of social well-being, the researchers
found, the lower her VEGF level. More support from friends and
neighbors, as well as less distance from friends, were both linked
to lower levels of the growth factor, according to the report
in the August 15th issue of Cancer.
While women who reported more feelings of helplessness or worthlessness
had higher VEGF levels, depression in general was not related
to VEGF levels, the investigators found.
[08/30/2002; Reuters Health]
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