Does stress cause cancer? UAE residents strongly believe it does
Quotes and Advice for you
We provide health insurance plans for expatriates.
Ask questions or fill in the information for a quote, we're here to help.

Does stress cause cancer? UAE residents strongly believe it does

A study in the past year indicated that UAE residents overwhelmingly believe that stress causes cancer. Does it and, if so, how? In this article we’re going to be taking a look at some of the results of the report and have a think about what stress is actually doing to us.

Cell phones, processed meat, microwaves and night time work; they’ve all been singled out as causes of cancer in humans. Ever more far fetched causes have included sitting down all day, Facebook and even saliva, although the last was more of a tongue-in-cheek joke made by the late comedian George Carlin. A study of local UAE residents in the past year, however, showed that many believe that stress can cause cancer in people.

Does stress cause cancer? And, if so, how? In this article we’re going to be taking a look at some of the results of the report and have a think about what stress is actually doing to us.

52% of UAE respondents believe stress causes cancer

The 2016 study by the Philippines’ largest healthcare network, The Medical City, and Kuwait’s SAMA Medical Services surveyed 1,000 people to gauge their understanding of cancer awareness. While 52% believed stress was a big cause of cancer, 46% believed that faulty genes passed on the biggest cancer risks, and 68% believed that cancer could be prevented.

The American Cancer Society states that anyone, of any age, can get cancer but that the risk goes up with age. Approximately 78% of all cancers are diagnosed in people aged 55 or older, but there is evidence that rates of cancer occurrence can vary from different ethnic and racial groups. Genes, however, account for only 5% to 10% of all cancers, meaning that inherited gene defects (or mutations) are not the biggest risk.

Stress is also not a clear yes or no answer in terms of whether it causes cancer. The two biggest risk factors for causing cancer, as outlined by the report, were exposure to toxic environments and poor lifestyle choices.

A link between cancer and stress?

Does stress cause cancer? The organisation Cancer Research UK says that evidence that stress can alter hormone levels and lead to cancerous mutations in the body have been poor. They cite a nationwide study in Denmark that looked at cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associations, finding there was no increased risk in PTSD sufferers.

Similarly, a British Medical Journal meta analysis of 5,700 incident cancer events looked at the data of more than 116,000 European men and women aged 17-70. Defining and measuring “work stress” as the strain people experience in their job, they looked at the incidents of cancer in the data, compared with the job strain, and also found that work related stress is unlikely to be an important risk factor for a number of cancers.

Stress’ indirect effect on our health and cancer risk

So if stress doesn’t directly cause our body to develop cancer, are the UAE respondents wrong? Not necessarily. Again, Cancer Research UK explains that stress can cause situations and behaviours that can lead to having an increased risk of cancer. When we are pressured, some of us can tend to smoke, over eat or even drink large amounts of alcohol in order to feel better.

These choices are not only unhealthy, but we know they can cause cancer - so being stressed is not completely off the cancer risk radar!

How can I reduce my stress levels?

We’re all living extremely busy and fast-paced lifestyles these days. It’s important to know how to de-stress when you feel the pressure building up. The American Psychological Association has these tips for managing stress and leading calmer, healthier lives:

  • Take a break: Whatever it is that’s causing your stress, if you can take a break from it - you should! Work, school, relationships; sometimes you need to tell yourself it’s okay to step away from it, recharge, and then return to it with a new perspective and some fresh energy.

  • Exercise: Not only is exercise a big plus for being healthy and reducing your cancer risk, it also helps people de-stress and improves their moods. Go for a run, swim, walk or have a good little dance session. Get active!

  • Find something or someone that makes you smile and laugh: Our brains are connected with our emotions and facial expressions, so sometimes that old saying “Put a smile on your dial!” really can make a difference in your mood.

  • Get support: Sometimes things can seem a bit harder to deal with yourself - so remember it’s okay to ask for help! Whether it’s a friend, a family member or a professional, talking things out can always help you put things into perspective.

  • Meditate: There’s increasing evidence that meditation and mindfulness really can help the mind and body relax. Meditation doesn’t need to be performed during a paid for session, sometimes you can simply take two minutes out of you day at work to practice being mindful, helping you rebalance and recharge.

More on cancer with UAE Medical Insurance

We’ve written before about cancer, so check out our other articles on cancer being a significant lifestyle disease in the UAE, the future of the illness in the region, and the 7 super tips that you can follow to help reduce your cancer risk. While the evidence disagrees that stress causes cancer, we know that it can definitely contribute to a lifestyle that increases your risk of developing the disease.

If you’re in the market for a comprehensive medical insurance package that will cover cancer related treatments and surgeries, then why not call the UAE experts in healthcare coverage? UAE Medical Insurance has a well trained team with experience in providing appropriate insurance solutions for a price that meets your budget. For a free quote or some general advice, contact the team at UAE Medical Insurance today!



UAE-Medical-Insurance is owned and operated by Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers LLC who is regulated and licensed by the UAE Insurance Authority (license number 266).

Registered Office: PO Box 391195, Dubai, UAE