Breast Cancer and the Stressed-out Dodo

Remember the Dodo birds from the Disney movie Ice Age?  There’s a part where they all walk around chanting, “Doomed.  Doomed.  DOOMED.  DOOOOOMED!”  Just before they all accidentally walk, jump, fall or roll off the cliff one by one.

Well, that’s about how I feel every time I read a new article about breast cancer research.  This morning’s article on Yahoo Health informed me that I was doomed from childhood. 

According to the latest research by Dr. Ronit Peled of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, experiencing severe life events at a young age (before 20) can increase your risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 62%.  Well, shit. 


Peled  studied 622 women between 25 and 45 years old.  41% of them had been diagnosed with breast cancer, the other 59% had not.  Their “Severe Life Events”, such as loss of a spouse or close relative were tallied as well as  mild/moderately stressful events like bad illness, tragedy or job loss and they were given a questionnaire to determine their anxiety, depression, happiness and optimism levels. 

Guess what?  The women who had two or more severe or mild/moderate life events were 62% more likely to have beast cancer.  Plus, those mild/moderate life events seem to build on each other for a cumulative effect.  Oh, goody!

The good news?  Women with a “general feeling of happiness and optimism” had a lower risk of being diagnosed.  About 25% lower. 

His conclusion:  Women suffering severe losses at a young age should be considered at high risk for breast cancer and treated accordingly.    Do you hear that AMA??? 

Also of note, Isreal has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the world.  But it’s not like there’s any stress about living there or anything.

As I read the article I did a quick mental calculation of my pre-20 Severe Life Events. 

  • Age 11 – Dad clinically died for 5 1/2 minutes. 
  • Age 14 – Dad died.
  • Age 15 – House burned down
  • Age 15 – Close schoolmate committed suicide
  • Age 17 – Close schoolmate killed in car accident


Looking back, I had many risk factors for breast cancer that I was unaware were even risk factors.  Of course, there is the ever-popular BRCA2 genetic mutation.  But, hey, it’s not like I knew about that before hand.  I had read, however, about the increased risk for women who had their first child after the age of 30.  I was 33.  What was I supposed to do about that, though?  Go pop out a pup just to avoid the Big C?  Hardly. 

Of course this article brought to my attention the role early stress may have played in my disease.  And the Mayor of Lemonland at World Wide Breast Cancer informed me that a history of benign breast biopsies is also a high risk indicator for breast cancer. 

Huh.  See what I mean?  Me and the Dodos have had a lot in common.

Cross posted at I Can’t Complain Any More Than Usual


7 Responses to Breast Cancer and the Stressed-out Dodo

  1. Also getting your period before age 12. They are not really sure about birth control and infertility drugs either. Let us not forget about dense breasts! I do agree stress is a major factor. It is the thing that every time I see the doctors now they remind me that I have to keep my stress in check!! DOOMED in the stress department!!!

  2. bcjenster says:

    Geez, Stella. You did have a lot of stressful happenings!

    This is just one more thing on the list of risk factors I cannot check off. Nothing. None of it. Not one thing so far have I been able to check off.

  3. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    I was told that the biggest risk factor for breast cancer was being a woman. (I told my mom I wanted to be boy! They didn’t have to wear frilly dresses. Harumph.) I was also told by someone about this study that the women weren’t interviewed until AFTER they had breast cancer. Think they might be a big depressed? Hmm.

  4. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    that would be a BIT depressed. tho big works too.

  5. imstell says:

    Ha! I’m a girl too! See… Doomed!

  6. Jodi says:

    wow…very interesting…thank you so much for sharing!!! I would love to add this blog’s logo and link to my blog’s sidebar…can anyone help me with the link? I would love for my readers to have this as a resource as well…
    let me know…thank you and blessings to you and to your families!

  7. I read about the study.

    I’m still skeptical.

    It is easy to fall into the “everything causes cancer” mode.

    At some point, you have to just sit back and live your life.

    It is impossible to avoid everything that someone claims causes cancer!

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