Article Title: Stressful Life Events as Risk Factor of Breast Cancer in Women

Author(s): Nighat Shaheen, Salma Andleeb, and Farhana Jahangir

Institute(s): Jinnah College for Women, University of Peshawar; Department of Psychology, University of Peshawar.

Journal: Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 2017, Vol. 32, No. 2, 511-524

Correspondence Address: Nighat Shaheen, Jinnah College for Women, University of Peshawar, Pakistan. Email:


The present study examined the role of stressful life events as risk factor in the etiology of breast cancer in women. The sample consisted of 100 married women having different symptoms of breast cancer referred by physicians to Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The age range of the sample was 45 to 68 years and belonged to upper middle, middle, and lower middle socioeconomic class. Convenience sampling technique was used to select the sample. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Holmes & Rahe, 1967) was used to assess the number of stressful life events that had occurred before diagnosis in the past 12 years. As being informed about the final breast cancer diagnosis, patients might be more prone to report their prior stress in an effort to explain their disease. To avoid this recall bias, all the women were interviewed before the final diagnosis (clinical examination, biopsy, & mammography). The chi-square analyses were computed to test the significance of difference between the two groups, that is breast cancer and healthy participants after the final diagnosis. Results showed that breast cancer women reported significantly higher number of stressful life events than the healthy participants. Results further demonstrated that breast cancer women perceived higher levels of stress due to these events than the healthy participants. The findings conclude that adverse life events and the resulting stress on account of these events may represent a risk factor for breast cancer in women.

Keywords. Stressful life events, risk factor, breast cancer.