Stress is commonly thought to increase susceptibility to disease, but a new study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity finds short-term stress can actually boost the immune system and help reduce the number of skin cancer tumors in mice.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Image: Wikimedia Commons
"It does not make sense that stress should always or necessarily be harmful since its most basic form is the fight-or-flight response," linkurl:Firdaus Dhabhar,; the lead author of the paper and a neuroimmunologist from Stanford University, wrote in an email. "In nature, the ability to mount stress responses is essential for survival." Previous studies, including several from Dhabhar's lab, have shown that acute stress can help fight infection and enhance immune function. But this latest paper, which appeared linkurl:online; at the journal's website ahead of print publication, is the first to demonstrate its effects on cancer. "These findings are very exciting," said linkurl:Rainer Straub,; a neuroimmunologist...

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