Williams Cancer Institute

The Nervous System’s Role in the War Against Cancer

The Nervous System’s Role in the War Against Cancer

In the relentless pursuit of unraveling the intricacies of cancer pathogenesis, a hitherto underexplored terrain has emerged at the forefront of scientific inquiry—the nexus between the nervous system and the tumors.

Scientists, led by Michelle Monje from Stanford University, are delving into the intricate connection between tumors and nerves. In a study conducted in November 2023, published in the journal Nature, where it was found that synaptic connections and brain biochemistry play a crucial role in the behavior of tumors. This discovery reflects the importance of the nervous system in cancer.

There is evidence of instances where nerves form connections through sets of cancer cells.Some tumors release substances that stimulate the growth of nerves around them, and in brain cancer, such as glioblastomas, it has been shown that nerve cells form electrical connections with tumor cells.
Certain findings suggest that medications altering the nervous system, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers, may be linked to a lower risk of developing tumors. Particularly noteworthy are potential substances, such as beta-blockers, which reduce nerve activity and have shown promise in cases of breast and colon cancer.

Therefore, anxiolytics, antidepressants, and some epilepsy medications could help reduce cellular stress and consequently slow tumor growth. This, in combination with treatments like immunotherapy, could lead to the development of new techniques to combat this disease.
It is necessary to conduct further research to better understand the intricate relationship between the nervous system and cancer, with potential benefits for both treatment efficacy and pain management in patients.”

Reference: Karen Weintraub, 19 Nov 2023, People on meds for depression are showing fewer cases of cancer. Is there a link? https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2023/11/19/nervous-system-fighting-cancer/70358208007/

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