Mice that were placed under short-term stress before being exposed to UV radiation, a known cancer-causing agent, developed fewer skin tumors than those that just got the UV. These new findings from Firdaus Dhabhar's lab at Stanford University medical school were released by Brain, Behavior and Immunity a few days ago.
Dhabhar's study is the first specifically designed to test the hypothesis that stress can protect against tumors. But his results are eerily similar to those obtained in a set of $10 million animal experiments, known as PERFORM-A, that were supposed to investigate the cancer risks associated with cell-phone radiation. In each case, the animals were restrained inside plastic tubes: in Dhabhar's study to put the mice under stress, and in the PERFORM-A project to keep the animals in a fixed position in order to deliver a well-defined dose of radiation. And, in each case, the stress had a dramatic —and very similar— impact on the animals.