Stress and Cancer Risk: The Possible Role of Work Stress

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Perumana R. Sudhakaran, editor


Despite widespread public belief that stress may lead to cancer, research on this relationship remains inconclusive. However, recent work points to the possibility that hostile naturalistic settings may contribute to cancer risk. Within organizational research, work stress is thought to be one of the greatest sources of psychological stress in people’s lives and is increasingly becoming a modern-day pandemic. Thus, this paper outlines the nature of stress, including how excessive and chronic stress negatively affects human health and may possibly lead to cancer, argues that a causal link between stress and cancer may exist, despite being frequently overlooked due to ethical and practical research difficulties, and presents an industrial/organizational psychologist’s viewpoint of workplace stress by outlining two prominent models used in the social sciences. Finally, the author suggests that future collaboration between experimental cancer researchers and workplace psychologists may help further address the possible link between work stress and cancer.