Monday, February 20, 2017

64 percent more likely to succumb to disease

Being socially isolated may markedly raise risk of women with early breast cancer dying

Is being isolated socially a killer?

Very possibly.

An article by Liz Szabo of Kaiser Health News cites a recent study that "patients with early breast cancer who are socially isolated have a higher risk of dying from their disease."

According to the story, women with fewer social ties "were 43 percent more likely to see their breast cancer return, 64 percent more likely to die from breast cancer."

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and published in the journal Cancer, considered ties of friends, family and community and religious groups.

As well as spouses or romantic partners.

Dr. Wendy Chen
The study's co-author, Wendy Chen, a breast cancer medical oncologist at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, clearly stated, however, that the findings do not prove "strong social support actually prolongs life."

Still, she said, they should be a reminder to physicians to evaluate more than their patients' physical health.

Szabo's story postulates that patients with stronger social ties not only receive moral support but encouragement to check out symptoms, to exercise, to eat healthier and to take meds.

Those patients also receive practical assistance, it adds, like picking up prescriptions, cooking meals and providing transportation to doctors' appointments.

The study looked at 9,267 women in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project, which combined four studies of women from five U.S. states and China. Doctors, the Kaiser Health News story indicated, "followed women for a median of 10 years."

Isolated women, researchers found, also "were heavier, more likely to smoke, less likely to exercise and less likely to undergo chemotherapy, even if this treatment would have been appropriate for them."

Just under 250,000 American women are predicted to be diagnosed with breast cancer annually, with more than 40,000 expected to die from it.

A closer look at the ups and downs of the disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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