Breast cancer

30 January 2008

Personality, breast risk not linked

A woman's personality does not seem to influence her risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.

A woman's personality does not seem to influence her risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.

Some past research has found that personality may sway cancer risk, fuelling the idea that there are certain cancer-prone personality types, but "consistent scientific evidence ... is lacking," Dr Eveline M. A. Bleiker, of The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, and colleagues note in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In a 1996 study, the researchers found a weak link between the development of breast cancer and high levels of "antiemotionality," defined as the lack of emotional behaviour or trust in one's own feelings. However, they failed to find a connection between breast cancer and any of the 10 other personality traits studied, including anxiety, anger and depression.

The 1996 study was based on 131 women with breast cancer and 771 without the disease, who were part of a larger surveillance group of 9 705 women who completed personality questionnaires between 1989 and 1990.

Bleiker and colleagues conducted a follow-up with 217 women enrolled in the original group who developed breast cancer within 5 to 13 years after completing the personality questionnaire. The new study also included 868 women who remained free of breast cancer.

A chance finding
The researchers were unable to confirm the previously reported association between "antiemotionality" and breast cancer. This suggests that it might have been only a "chance finding," they note.

Bleiker's group also could not link any personality trait, alone or in combination with other personality traits or medical risk factors, to increased breast cancer risk.

These findings may help to reassure women that their personality is unlikely to influence their odds of developing breast cancer, Bleiker and colleagues conclude.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, February 6, 2008. – (Reuters Health)

Read more:
Breast Centre
How to prevent breast cancer

January 2008


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Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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