January 26, 2011 - 6:35pm
I think we know instinctively that social support is important in dealing with and recovering from breast cancer, and a new study finds scientific proof of this. A Vanderbilt Medical Center study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that a strong social support system increases the chance of surviving breast cancer and lowers the likelihood of recurrence.
The study, in partnership with Shanghai Breast Cancer, evaluated a wide range of lifestyle factors gleaned from surveys of women diagnosed with breast cancer. The surveys included questions about social well being, emotional support and family relationships, as well as physical factors such as sleep and eating habits.
Researchers found woman who scored highest on the social well-being scale were 38 percent less likely to die from breast cancer and had a 48 percent lower level of recurrence compared with those who scored lowest.
Emotional support proved the strongest predictor of cancer recurrence.
Women reporting the highest satisfaction with marriage and family had a 43 percent risk reduction, while those with strong social support showed a 40 percent decrease in risk. Women with favorable interpersonal relationships had a 35 percent risk reduction.
"We found that social well-being in the first year after cancer diagnosis is an important prognostic factor for breast cancer recurrence or death," study author Meira Epplein, Ph.D said. "This suggests that the opportunity exists for the design of treatment interventions to maintain or enhance social support soon after diagnosis to improve disease outcomes."
More information: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/news/releases.php?release=1984