Stress has been implicated in a number of different illnesses, including cancer. In the past researchers have concentrated on the way stress weakens the immune system, allowing certain tumours to evade the body's defences. Now scientists at Ohio State University believe that stress may also speed the growth of tumours as well. A chemical called noradrenaline is produced at times of stress and the researchers looked at how this chemical affected cancer cells, in the laboratory. The scientists studied multiple myeloma cells, a blood cancer which kills 10,000 Americans a year. They found that in cells in the early stages of cancer noradrenaline stimulated the cells to produce a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor which in turn stimulated the production of blood vessels allowing the cancer to grow and flourish. The research shows yet another way in which stress can damage your health and may lead to new cancer treatments as scientists try to find ways to block the action of noradrenaline.
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