From our entertainment media desk …


… comes information that Don Imus, the radio commentator, and David Prowse, best known for his portrayal of mega-villain Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, have both been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Never short of an opinion on things that matter to him, Imus is quoted as stating that, “I think it was all the stress that caused this,” on his Monday talk show. However, The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is not aware of any data that suggests a connection between stress and the development of prostate cancer. We think the fact that Mr. Imus is 68 years of age is probably a more likely cause of his cancer.

6 Responses

  1. Mike,

    I have often wondered about the connection of stress and prostate cancer. Once you begin talking to men you learn that it is not uncommon for them to be in a high stress situation prior to their diagnosis, divorce, loss of job, scandal of some sort, etc. Yes it is has not been studied but that doesn’t mean that it may not be a factor. Milkin is another anecdotal example of a man in high stress who is diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    If you do a PubMed search for emotional stress and prostate cancer you get 150 articles most related to men with prostate cancer. If you take the word emotional out you get over a 1,000 articles but most are probably a different type of stress. I remember reading a few years back a study that men in white collar jobs were more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men in blue collar jobs. Why? It is also accepted that exercise is a stress lowering mechanism. It has also been hinted that exercise may be part of a preventive mechanism for some prostate cancers. I have wanted for years for someone to look into the possibility of a connection of emotional stress to prostate cancer. I am not holding my breath. Just because we do not have a study doesn’t mean that is not a factor, it just means that nobody is looking at it. Not all men Imus’ age develop prostate cancer. Could stress be a reason? Maybe.

  2. Kathy:

    1. How many men do you know today who do not feel that life is stressful? (Come to think of it, how many people do you know today who do not think life is stressful?) We live psychologically unhealthy lives.

    2. Why are blue collar workers less likely to get a diagnosis of prostate cancer than white collar workers? Because they are less likely to go to the doctor for regular health checks — for all sorts of reasons.

    3. Could stress be one of multiple causative factors in a diagnosis of prostate cancer? Sure it could. Is it likely to be significant by comparison with being 68 years old? I doubt it.

    4. For every anecdotal report of a man diagnosed with prostate cancer who has had a stressful life, I will bet I can offer you at least two anecdotal reports of men who have led (long and) stressful lives and are not known to have had a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Here is a quick list of a few: Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Winston Churchill, Chuck Yeager (as far as I know), Bill Gates, James Bond, Ronald Reagan, Ernest Hemingway, etc., etc.

  3. Don Imus remarks that he feels stress played a role in his diagnosis of prostate cancer. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink remark states “is not aware of any data that suggests a connection between stress and the development of prostate cancer.”

    Stress because of concern regarding one’s condition can lead to depression, and may also have an effect on cancer cell growth. I have included below the results of a lab study at Ohio University on cancer cells from a head and neck cancer. It validates findings in ovarian cancer and may apply generally. Interestingly, a beta-blocker slowed progression of the stress hormone stimulated cells. This study supports the importance of avoiding stress and depression

    Stress Hormones May Play New Role In Speeding Up Cancer Growth

    “November 1, 2006. Hormones produced during periods of stress may increase the growth rate of cancer. A new study shows that an increase in norepinephrin, a stress hormone, can stimulate tumor cells to produce two compounds. These compounds can break down the tissue around tumor cells and allow the cells to more easily move into the bloodstream. From there, they can travel to another location in the body to form additional tumors, a process called metastasis.

    “The research also suggests that the same hormone, norepinephrin, can also stimulate the tumor cells to release another compound that can aid in the growth of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells, hastening the growth and spread of the disease. The work was reported in the latest issue of the journal Cancer Research ….

    “The target adrenergic receptors for these hormones are well-known to clinicians dealing with high-blood-pressure patients. Typically, such patients are given a class of drugs known as beta-blockers which lead
    to a lowering of blood pressure levels.

    “Glaser and Yang wanted to see how these same drugs affected these tumor cells. They added propanol, a beta-blocker, to the tumor cells and then exposed them to both norepinepherine and epinephrine. With
    the drug present, the levels of MMP-2, MMP-9 and VEGF didn’t increase.

    ‘This suggests a new approach to possibly fight some cancers — the prescribing of beta-blocker-type drugs that would block these receptors and perhaps slow the progression of the disease,’ Glaser said.”

    And here is a link to yet more supporting evidence that stress stimulating an uptake of epinephrine can consequently stimulate cancer cell growth.

  4. I meant to check the box to notify me of follow-up comments regarding “From our entertainment media desk….” so have checked the box this time.

  5. Dear Chuck:

    We did not intend to imply that the stress associated with a diagnosis of cancer could not cause worsening of the disease. This is well understood.

    Mr. Imus was suggesting that stress caused his cancer (before he knew he had it). There is no evidence of such a cause and effect linkage in the initial development of any form of cancer as far as we are aware.

  6. Dear Mike:

    Stress may not have been causal to initial PC formation, but it certainly could have been causal in its subsequent development. I’m not sure Imus laid the cause on his PC initial development on his stress so much as he laid its development on that stress. When I see him next time, I’ll ask him (grin).

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