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Till death do us part.

A husband who copes poorly with stress may inadvertently help speed the progression of his wife's breast cancer, according to a study directed by David Spiegel of Stanford University School of Medicine.

Spiegel's group studied 31 couples recruited for a study of the effects of psychotherapy on women's breast cancer survival. Women whose husbands initially exhibited high concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva died at a markedly higher rate over a period of up to 4 years.

Elevated cortisol may reflect the stress caused by a husband's difficulty in dealing with his wife's life-threatening condition and in providing her with effective emotional support, Spiegel and his coworkers propose. This biological reaction may also accompany a husband's anticipation of bereavement, which begins years before his wife dies, the researchers contend.
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Title Annotation:Behavior; length of survival of women with breast cancer correlates with levels of cortisol in husband's blood
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 18, 1996
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