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Health Psychol. 1999 Sep;18(5):520-31.

Psychosocial factors and the development of breast cancer: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Educational Psychology, University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.


A meta-analysis examined the relationship between psychosocial factors and the development of breast cancer. Average effect sizes (Hedges's g) were calculated from 46 studies for 8 major construct categories: anxiety/depression, childhood family environment, conflict-avoidant personality, denial/repression coping, anger expression, extraversion-introversion, stressful life events, and separation/loss. Significant effect sizes were found for denial/repression coping (g = .38), separation/loss experiences (g = .29), and stressful life events (g = .25). Although conflict-avoidant personality style was also significant (g = .19), the effect size was less robust, and a moderate number of future studies with null results would reduce the significance. Results overall support only a modest association between specific psychosocial factors and breast cancer and are contrary to the conventional wisdom that personality and stress influence the development of breast cancer.

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