Oh for Pete’s sake! (Breast cancer and Stress)

Pondering upon....
Pondering upon….
55. breast cancer logo
55. breast cancer logo (Photo credit: TipsTimes)

Before I start another rant on what is bugging me this week, I would like to register my utmost gratitude to those who have continued to visit my blog in the past couple of weeks. I took time off blogging and social networking  to pay close attention to other important things in my life.  I am delighted to say that although the life changes I made so far may have been a little drastic, they are indeed paying off greatly. As you know, it is always wise to go back to the drawing board of life and amend few leaks. Anyhoo, I am back!:-)

So has anyone heard of the newly published research on correlation of stress and breast cancer ? Well that nearly brought my lovely hybrid car to a screeching halt. I heard over on BBC radio 4 as I was driving home from the gym yesterday. (My new love for BBC radio 4 instead of my usual radio 1 is a story for another day )
The new research was led by Dr Tetyana Pudrovska. The findings concluded that professional/ successful woman are more likely to develop breast cancer than our stay home and lower income counterparts. The risk factor pointed towards the high stress level of exercising job authority. Presumebly, woman bosses and managers are most at risk of stress thus breast cancer. I can only assume that you become an automatic victim to breast cancer if you are a manager, a nurse and your relationship is a bit turbulent. Surely some life changes could help reduce stress and minimise prevalence of breast cancer in professional woman.

I found Dr Pudrovska’s research very noble and a great warning bell for us career minded women, but I was also incredibly annoyed by yet another obstacle to deter women from growing in their professional abilities and independence. The world is changing overwhelmingly and some women like myself are becoming more independent and going for leadership roles in their various professions. These roles come with enormous pressure and expectations but they are also very rewarding both financially and emotionally.
My argument also focuses on the fact that other factors other than work stress could trigger cancer in Women.

I don’t know what your thoughts are on the findings of this research but my suggestion would be to know your own body and identify your stress level, adopt a healthy lifestyle and chill out when needed. It is easier said than done. I am still learning how to chill out and retain my…shall I say…. hairy balls in the world of scary balls. I am off now to do a bit of cross-training at the gym. Thank you so much for reading and have a great weekend.

Jane xxx


15 Replies to “Oh for Pete’s sake! (Breast cancer and Stress)”

    1. Gosh it’s so hard, I am raving mad trying to get the balance right. I want to be there for my children as well as being successful in my career. It is all very stressful. However doing the things I like and regular exercises always calms me a bit.


    1. Thanks a lot Jeff for visiting my blog. You are absolutely right on your comment. I also think that the high prevalence of cancer these days is partly down to our crazy modern lifestyle. We must chill…


  1. You stopped me in my tracks when I read this (the hybrid is the driveway). That’s so discouraging. Sometimes it feels like three steps forward and two steps back. Like most things to do with our health, common sense will always win the day. Stress was never good for us, we just have one more reason to avoid it.


  2. Hmmmm!

    This is so enlightening! Stress is taken as a given – especially on my side of the world. Knowing the implications – never-before-imagined implications helps dimension things better!

    God bless you Jane! Hercules in heels indeed!


  3. Tetyana Pudrovska here. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I am conflicted about my findings. We keep finding that job authority is related to 1.7 greater risk of a breast cancer diagnosis compared to working without job authority. About 20% of the elevated breast cancer risk among higher-status women in our study was explained by later age at first birth, lower parity, more regular alcohol use, higher use of hormone replacement therapy, and later menopause. BUT women in higher-status occupations still have elevated breast cancer risk even when we take into account their ovarian hormones risk profiles. So there something else going on but we don’t know exactly what.

    We speculate it may be chronic stress and chronically elevated cortisol but we don’t have direct measures of psychological and physiological stress. Yet, it is well-documented that exercising job authority is stressful for women: women in authority positions deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions, negative stereotypes and prejudice, social isolation, and resistance from subordinates, colleagues, and superiors. Men’s authority is considered legitimate so men in authority position deal with fewer stressors because they don’t have to overcome as much resistance as women. I continue this research. For example, I found that job authority increases women’s depression but decreases men’s depression, which may also be explained by higher levels of stress among high-flying women. Ideally I would like to collect data on job authority and biomarkers of stress, especially cortisol.

    The main point is NOT that women should be concerned about or avoid authority positions and higher-status jobs! The main point is that we need to address gender discrimination, negative stereotypes, and prejudice against women leaders to reduce stress, minimize psychological costs, and increase the non-pecuniary benefits of higher-status jobs for women. Women in authority position need shield themselves psychologically from stress and negativity. It’s less of a clinical issue and more of a social and psychological issue.

    I’ll be happy to discuss this topic further in this blog or via e-mail (tup3@psu.edu). I am an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University (http://www.pop.psu.edu/directory/tup3) and I do a lot of research on cancer.


    1. Thank you so much Dr Pudrovska. Just saw your comment and I am completely over the moon! Your findings opened my eyes; I am a nurse- manager, while my job is rewarding in so many way, it can be a double whammy of stress.
      I would certainly like you to discuss this futher and other health issues on my blog. Have a great weekend 🙂


      1. Thank you Jane! Just saw your reply. One of my next steps will be to conduct interviews with higher-status women who have breast cancer about their work experiences. Crunching numbers is important but it is equally important to hear the voice and perspectives of the women themselves. Many women in the US and UK got in touch with me after the (terribly sensationalist and inaccurate) media coverage of my research and told me, “This is exactly my story.” I want to actually hear these women’s stories and connect them to our quantitative survey findings and ideally biological data like cortisol. On a different note, I really like your blog.


      2. Thank you Dr Pudrovska. I am not surprised that some people may misunderstand your research. I had the privilege to hear you speak about it with clarification on BBCR4. I am looking forward to more of your work. Thanks for bringing vital issues to light and many thanks for your compliment on my blog.


      3. It’s not that people misunderstand my research. It’s that the media don’t relay my interpretation about socially structured constraints on women’s leadership. Journalists go for a juicer punch line such as “Leadership makes women sick.” Urgh. BBCR4 was only interested in my findings but not their interpretation. When I finally started talking about broader gender issues that may shape my findings I was cut off. My co-authors and I decided to write our own op-ed. Again, thank you for raising these issues on your blog and for being thoughtful about this.


      4. Thanks a lot for clarification. Most people I spoke to about your research also heard over BBCR4 and found it really informative. Knowledge is power! Welldone once again.


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