Other studies have shown a connection between stress and cancer, thereby making stress a risk factor for cancer. This new study first analyzed samples from 300 breast-cancer patients. They found a direct association between the activation of a stress gene called ATF3 in certain immune cells, with the spread of cancer cells.
Next, they tested mice that were either normal or could not express the ATF3 gene. The cancer in the normal mice metastasized to the lungs much faster and to a greater degree. The ATF3 gene creates an ATF3 protein used to signal other genes to turn on or off. Using the mice data, researchers were able to find an ATF3 gene “signature”, which may be used to help predict cancer mortality risks.
There are several ways to turn on the ATF3 gene in addition to chronic stress… some others are; high fat diets, UV damage, radiation, chemo, and even stress signals from the cancer cells themselves.