University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Stress Effects on Cancer Development and Progression

CortisolBiobehavioral investigations of effects of psychological stress on biological processes involved in cancer etiology, progression, and treatment efficacy are a continuing focus of the BOP. One goal of the BOP is to increase appreciation of emerging cancer research demonstrating that pro-inflammatory processes contribute to the development and progression of several types of cancer, as well as emerging evidence of direct effects of neuroendocrine influences on pre-neoplastic and transformed cells themselves.

Selected Publications

  • The immune system is highly responsive to stress, although the complete mechanisms linking stress and immune mediators, including T lymphocytes, are not fully understood. BOP researchers show that stress, via release of stress hormones, induces early T cell activation and greatly impacts the cytoskeleton by modulating numerous actin-regulating proteins (Flint MS, et. al., Brain Behav Immun. 25:1187-96, 2011).
  • BOP members examined the connections between emotional responses and increased levels of circulating inflammatory markers, using experimental induction of psychological stress with a speech task under controlled laboratory conditions. Results revealed positive associations between increases in IL-6 levels and task-related increases in anger and anxiety, which were independent of variability in participants' levels of cardiovascular reactivity to the task. (Carroll JE Brain Behav Immun. 25:232-8, 2011).
Bovbjerg, Dana, PhD
Steel, Jennifer, PhD
Jenkins, Frank, PhD
Rosenzweig, Margaret, PhD, CRNP-C, AOCN
Acute/Tertiary Care
Perkins, Kenneth, PhD