Recently, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded a study of 94 women whose breast cancer had spread (metastatic) or returned (recurrent). Researchers asked them whether they had ever experienced stressful or traumatic life events. The categories ranged from traumatic stress to some stress to no significant stress. According to David Spiegel, M.D., one of the study’s authors and a faculty member at the Stanford University School of Medicine, there were marked differences.

“Comparisons revealed a significantly longer disease-free interval among women reporting no traumatic or stressful life events,” says Dr. Spiegel.” A history of traumatic events early in life can have many physical and emotional effects, including changing the hormonal stress response system.”

But Dr. Spiegel says there is good news. “Our research has shown that people do better in the aftermath of traumatic stress if they deal with it directly. Facing, rather than fleeing it, is important. We have conducted support groups for more than 30 years, and found that dealing with traumatic and very stressful experiences is much healthier. In other words, don’t suppress your emotions