Stress, Natural Killer Cells, and Cancer


in The Link Between Religion and Health

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780195143607
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893256 | DOI:
Stress, Natural Killer Cells, and Cancer

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It is now fairly well established that the way individuals cope with stress may affect the development and progression of infections and diseases, including cancer. Of particular interest to researchers attempting to better understand the potential immunological mechanisms that may mediate the influences of the central nervous system on host defenses against cancer and other diseases are natural killer (NK) cells. This chapter describes natural killer cells, a type of lymphocyte that may play a critical role in cancer surveillance and containment. Studies that connect psychological and social stress to NK cell activity, which may be a key link to help explain how psychosocial factors influence susceptibility to cancer and affect its course, are discussed. The role of NK cell activity in anxiety and depression is also considered, along with the link between stress and the production of cytokines and how religion provides a form of social support.

Keywords: stress; natural killer cells; cancer; psychosocial factors; anxiety; depression; cytokines; social support

Chapter.  5576 words. 

Subjects: Neuropsychology

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