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Cancer Stress Roundup

February 1, 2013

Scientists are learning how stress can promote cancer.



Cancer from stress. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The body protects itself from cancer with a process called apoptosis—essentially, when healthy cells turn cancerous, they commit suicide, stopping the cancer in its tracks. In a new study, scientists report that the hormone adrenaline, which we secrete when we’re under stress, inhibits apoptosis. So the cancer cells are free to divide and spread. In addition to alerting us to the dangers of stress, the study points to new ways to treat cancer, using medications that block adrenaline making the cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy.

In other news, two new studies show that rats exposed to any one of several environmental toxins pass down reproductive disorders and obesity for three generations. The great grandpups of these rats had these disorders even though they themselves were never exposed to the toxins. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.