A good nights sleep may be one weapon in the fight against cancer, according to researchers at Stanford University Medical Center. Their work is among the first to piece together the link between mental well-being and cancer recovery.
Previous studies have found people with cancer who go through group therapy or have a strong social network fare better than those with weaker social support. The question has been how psychosocial factors exert their influence on cancer cells. David Spiegel, MD, the Jack, Lulu and Sam Willson Professor in the School of Medicine, and Sandra Sephton, PhD, Spiegels former postdoctoral fellow now at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, suggest that a persons sleep/wake cycle might be the connection. Their work will be published in the October issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
"Psychosocial factors affect your behavior patterns, such as exercise, what you eat and drink, and your sleep," Spiegel said. Of these factors, how well you sleep can seriously alter the balance of hormones in your body. This makes the sleep/wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm, a good candidate for linking a persons social network to their cancer prognosis.
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