Stress Amplifies, Beta-Blockers Slow, Malignant Skin Cancer

Norepinephrine: Image from WikipediaNorepinephrine: Image from WikipediaIn the third of a series of studies linking stress hormones and cancer, medical researchers at Ohio State University found that stress amplifies the progression of malignant melanoma, particularly in advanced and aggressive melanomas.

Malignant melanoma is the most serious of three types of skin tumors - the other two types are basil cell and sqaumous cell carcinomas. Researchers from Ohio State University's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR), Eric V. Yang and Ronald Glaser, looked at the effects of a stress hormone on three different types of proteins released by the melanoma cells - 1) vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF); 2) Interleukin-6 and; 3) Interleukin-8 - all proteins active in the growth of tumors.

The stress hormone introduced to the three proteins was norepinephrine, commonly called the "flight or fight" hormone, a physiological release stimulated by the presence of physical or psychological danger or fear. If there is no physical way of reducing the norepinephrine hormone, as in fighting or running, the norepinephrine may cause a sustained rise in blood pressure, which can be damaging to several types of cells in the body.

Three malignant tumor cell lines were introduced to the norepinephrine and all three showed increases in levels expressed, particularly in the most advanced line, which showed a 2,000 percent increase in levels of IL-6. Yang and Glaser found that the norepinephrine binds to receptors on the surface of cancer cells and stimulates the release of the proteins that support tumor growth.

In a second phase of the study, Yang and Glaser introduced blood pressure medicine, commonly called "beta-blockers," to the cells in all three cell lines. Results of this phase indicated that the beta blockers did bind to the cells and were effective at lowering the production of the cancer supporting proteins.

What do these findings mean for patients with malignant melanoma? Obviously, they must do everything they can to reduce their stress levels, but that commonly prescribed blood pressure medication may help slow the progression of tumor growth, particularly during the most aggressive stages of the cancer.


via Science Daily


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