Psychological Stress and its Related Health Outcomes

The aim of my research is to study the health impact of severe psychological stress, especially for severely stressful life events focusing on bereavement and cancer diagnosis, as two major life events specifically.

Research description

Psychological stress is a powerful determinant of human behavior, physiology and health. Traditionally, studies have fairly consistently indicated that an experience of a traumatic life event significantly increases risks of various adverse health outcomes, both in the short and long term. Although a possible relationship between psychological stress and cancer risk has been a topic of interest since long, evidence remains rather inconclusive. Meanwhile, more compelling data have accumulated regarding the potential modifying effect of psychological stress on cancer progression.

Project leader

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Fang Fang


Research group

Our team was constructed in 2008 and has since been focusing on the dual relationship between psychological stress and cancer. First we are interested in the impact of cancer diagnosis, as a traumatic life event, on the well-being of the patients and their beloved ones. Second, we are interested in the roles of severe psychological stress, such as bereavement and other traumatic events, on cancer risk and prognosis. We are widely collaborating with researchers from Sweden, Iceland, United States, etc., on these research topics.

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Qing Shen

Affiliated to Research
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Qianwei Liu

Affiliated to Research

Former PhD students in the project

Ruoqing Chen: Phd thesis 2016
Donghao Lu: Phd thesis 2016

Ongoing projects

Our research work is supported by the European Research Council (ERC), Swedish Research Council (VR), Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life, and Welfare (Forte), Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden), Swedish Society for Medical Research (SSMF), China Scholarship Council, and Karolinska Institutet.

Selected publications

Immediate risk of suicide and cardiovascular death after a prostate cancer diagnosis: cohort study in the United States.
Fang F, Keating NL, Mucci LA, Adami HO, Stampfer MJ, Valdimarsdóttir U, et al
J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 2010 Mar;102(5):307-14

Suicide and cardiovascular death after a cancer diagnosis.
Fang F, Fall K, Mittleman MA, Sparén P, Ye W, Adami HO, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2012 Apr;366(14):1310-8

Pancreatic cancer risk after loss of a child: a register-based study in Sweden during 1991-2009.
Huang J, Valdimarsdóttir U, Fall K, Ye W, Fang F
Am. J. Epidemiol. 2013 Aug;178(4):582-9

Suicide and suicide attempt after a cancer diagnosis among young individuals.
Lu D, Fall K, Sparén P, Ye W, Adami HO, Valdimarsdóttir U, et al
Ann. Oncol. 2013 Dec;24(12):3112-7

Loss of a parent and the risk of cancer in early life: a nationwide cohort study.
Kennedy B, Valdimarsdóttir U, Sundström K, Sparén P, Lambe M, Fall K, et al
Cancer Causes Control 2014 Apr;25(4):499-506

Content reviewer:
Anna Persson