An innovative study by US medical researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) has revealed that stress amplifies the progression of malignant melanoma, a particular form of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer that is becoming increasingly common worldwide.
After two years of research, medical researchers came to a conclusion that there is a link between stress hormones and cancer. The stress hormone, norepinephrine also known as “flight or fight” hormone, produces enzyme that stimulates blood vessels to grow in melanoma tumors, accelerating the progression and spread of tumors, the researchers explained. These findings were published in the February 2009 issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
A research team including Eric V. Yang a research scientist at Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR), and Ronald Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics observed effects of stress hormone, norepinephrine on three different types of proteins released by melanoma cells -1) Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF); 2) Interleukin-6 and; 3) Interleukin-8 all proteins active in growth of tumors.
The three malignant tumor cells lines, i.e. VEGF, intereleukin-6 and interleukin-8, were introduced to the norepinephrine and all the three showed increase in levels expressed, particularly in the most advanced line which showed a 2000 percent increase in levels of interleukin-6 thus establishing the fact that stress has worse effect on aggressive and advanced stage malignant melanoma.
The researchers believe their findings would help slow down the progression of malignant melanoma and offer new hope for prolonging the lives of patients suffering with advanced stage malignant melanoma.