Breast Cancer Takes a Serious Toll on a Husband's Health, Too

Health Check 3

woman and man breast cancer survivorAnyone who has ever personally fought or witnessed someone with a chronic disease knows that battle's not just hard for the person who is sick. It can be equally challenging in a different way for those closest to them. Now research seems to be catching up with that idea, finding recently that men who take care of a wife with breast cancer, even years after diagnosis and end of treatment, could have a weakened immune response.

Researchers at Ohio State University noted that men who reported the highest levels of stress in relation to their wives' cancer were at the highest risk for physical symptoms and weaker immune systems ... Eek!

Apparently, the higher a man's perceived stress in relation to their wives' cancer, the more likely he would have compromised immune function -- leading to symptoms like headaches, gastrointestinal problems, coughing, and nausea. Men with wives who had recurrent cancer reported as many as nine symptoms, on average. However, if their wives were disease-free, they had fewer than five symptoms.

Really makes you stop and think about how not just stress but our perception of stress affects us mentally and physically. It's also refreshing that this study sheds light on the wellness of those around someone battling cancer.

Sharla Wells-Di Gregorio, Ph.D., lead author of the study, explains:

Caregivers are called hidden patients because when they go in for appointments with their spouses, very few people ask how the caregiver is doing. These men are experiencing significant distress and physical complaints, but often do not seek medical care for themselves due to their focus on their wives' illness.

Clearly, caregivers are affected in a big way by their loved one's disease. With hope, this research could open the door for health care practitioners to take caregivers' well-being into consideration more often.

How do you feel about this study? Have you ever seen a caregiver suffer from the effects of stress?

breasts, cancer, stress


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femal... femaleMIKE

Yes, I see the effects of cancer in more ways then 1.

tiffa... tiffanyharris97

Thank you for writing on this topic. It's so important that caregivers give themselves time to vent and stay healthy. There's a great book out there for those of us that are caregiving. It's called Still Have Faith and was written from the point of view of a husband. Micheal Staller took care of his wife for over 15 years and he wouldn't change thing except that now there is more of a support network. He wrote the book as a healing process, something for his children and he wanted support to be available. I highly recommend it. Here is his link.

lylab... lylaburns123

When someone in the family has cancer it takes a serious toll on the entire family. I know that when my sister had breast cancer her husbands health suffered as well. I bought him a whole lot of health and wellness products so he could feel good enough to work while she had cancer. Cancer is so devastating.

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