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Highly Accessed Review

Stress and breast cancer: from epidemiology to molecular biology

Lilia Antonova1*, Kristan Aronson2 and Christopher R Mueller2

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Cancer Therapeutics, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, 501 Smyth Rd, TOHCC 3rd floor, Ottawa, ON, K1H 8L6, Canada

2 Queen's Cancer Research Institute, Suite 300, 10 Stuart Street, Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6 Canada

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Breast Cancer Research 2011, 13:208  doi:10.1186/bcr2836

Published: 21 April 2011

Abstract

Stress exposure has been proposed to contribute to the etiology of breast cancer. However, the validity of this assertion and the possible mechanisms involved are not well established. Epidemiologic studies differ in their assessment of the relative contribution of stress to breast cancer risk, while physiological studies propose a clear connection but lack the knowledge of intracellular pathways involved. The present review aims to consolidate the findings from different fields of research (including epidemiology, physiology, and molecular biology) in order to present a comprehensive picture of what we know to date about the role of stress in breast cancer development.