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Behavioral program boosts antibody that fights breast cancer

xercise regularly and information on improving diet. The other half didn't participate in the intervention.

Researchers found that women in the intervention program showed significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol at four and eight months after surgery than did breast-cancer patients who didn't participate. (Cortisol levels were about one-quarter lower in program participants at eight months.)

"Stress hormones such as cortisol are known to depress the immune system, so it is very significant the women who participated in the program show lower levels of cortisol," Andersen said.

Program participants also showed significantly higher levels (about one-quarter higher) of an antibody to mucin, a chemical which at high levels is associated with the severity and progression of breast cancer.

Andersen said mucin antibody levels declined in both groups during the stress of chemotherapy. However, women who participated in the intervention program generally saw their antibody levels rebound at eight and 12 months after surgery. But antibody levels remained low for non-participants. The fact that the mucin antibody response was stronger in program participants suggests that other anti-tumor responses may also be stronger in these women. "We suspect that the
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Contact: Barbara Andersen
614-292-4236
Ohio State University
30-Aug-1999


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