*Boston Globe* 1/30/2008 includes an article: “Study: Personality,
breast cancer not linked” by Will Dunham.

Here’s the article:

The idea that a woman’s personality traits can make her more prone to
get breast cancer appears to be nothing more than a myth, according to a
Dutch study that tested the notion.

Women who were unemotional, depressed, or anxious were no more or less
likely to get breast cancer than any other women, the study found; nor
were women who were optimistic, angry, or understanding, or had any
combination of personality traits.

The Dutch researchers measured 11 personality traits in 9,705 Dutch
women in a survey in 1989 and 1990, then tracked them through 2003 to
see who got breast cancer.

“The present results indicate that women should not worry about a
possible impact of personality factors as a risk factor for breast
cancer,” Eveline Bleiker of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Antoni
van Leeuwenhoek Hospital in Amsterdam, who led the study, said by e-mail.

“Moreover, women with breast cancer should not worry that their
character might have contributed to the development of their disease,”
Bleiker added.

Bleiker said some researchers in the 1980s advanced the idea of a
“cancer-prone” personality with such traits as stoicism and difficulty
in expressing emotions.

“The earlier studies had a number of methodological flaws,” Bleiker
said, adding that more recent, large studies have not found the
existence of a “cancer-prone” personality. “In summary, there is
currently no convincing evidence that such a personality profile
exists,” Bleiker said.

In 1996, Bleiker’s team studied the same group of women for five years
and found that one of the 11 personality traits – what they called
“antiemotionality” – actually was associated with a slightly increased
risk for breast cancer.

But after tracking the women for a longer time in the new study, this
association vanished. This suggests it may have been only a chance
finding, Bleiker said.

Women with the “antiemotionality” trait responded negatively to survey
questions such as: “In important situations, I trust my feelings,” “I
respond emotionally to people,” and “My behavior is influenced by my
emotions.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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