Study finds weak social networking could lead to worsened breast cancer outcomes.
A new study recently released has found an association between patients with breast cancer that have fewer social ties and a worsened outcome of the disease, according to cnn.com.
Co-author on the study, Wendy Chen, who works as a breast cancer medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, cautioned the study did not prove that strong social support from friends and family members may actually prolong life, but did show a link between those with limited support and a risk of dying from the disease.
The findings show that those without significant ties to social contacts such as religious and community groups, or spouses and family members, were 64 percent more likely to suffer fatal consequences from the disease. Additionally, the study found that group to be 43 percent more likely to see the cancer return, and overall, 69 percent more likely to die from any cause.
This year, 246,660 women in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and over 40,000 of them will lose their lives to the disease, says the American Cancer Society.
The new study involved the records of 9,267 women who were participating in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project, which was a compilation of four other studies done on women from California, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Texas and China.
The researchers studied the lifestyles of the women and divided them into groupings, based on the number of their close social contacts, and followed these women for a median period of ten years.
The researchers noted socially isolated women’s results were vastly different from those of those with strong social connections, but also noted the study has some limitations. With regard to demographics, the study contained fewer than five percent of women who were black or Hispanic, hardly matching the make-up of the nation’s women.
Also, the study group’s participants were living healthier lifestyles than the typical American woman, and exercised more often, bringing in the question do social ties help those who maintain a less than healthy lifestyle as much as those in good health.
Candyce Kroenke, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, said in the final analysis, other factors did not explain the differences in the three groups, and her conclusion was that social isolation was still the most significant factor.
The findings were published in Cancer earlier this week.