The stress of being diagnosed with breast cancer can weaken the immune system in some women, according to researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus.
In a study of 116 women who underwent surgery for stage II or stage III breast cancer, the researchers divided participants into a low-stress group and a high-stress group. They found that women in the high-stress group experienced an increased breakdown of natural killer (NK) cells and had a lower response to interferon gamma, which enhances NK cell activity. Women in the high-stress group also had lower T-lymphocyte responses to monoclonal antibodies. The findings were reported January 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
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