Research Proposal (Revised): Stress and Cancer

Final Project Research Proposal (Revised)


What is the relationship between stress and cancer?


I began my preliminary research with the experiments and studies conducted by “the father of stress” himself, Hans Selye. Selye conducted experiments on lab rats, studied their behavior, and introduced the concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome and stress. The next step in my research brought me to a map of field of stress science, where I was able to conclude a correlation between stress and cancer (as well as many other side-effects, but I do not anticipate focusing on any of those unless they can also lead to cancer).

Zeroing In

Of course, I need to start with developing a basic understanding of what stress actually is. Next, I will research how stress affects the body on a biological level – questioning not only what stress can do, but also how. Once these basics are fully understood, I can begin working toward finding data suggesting a correlation between stress and cancer. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a study conducted solely for this purpose: to explain how stress actually does in fact cause cancer. Then I will really focus on the specifics. How does stress inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors? Are certain parts of the body more susceptible to these stress-caused tumors?


From the basic research I’ve already conducted, a relationship between stress and cancer definitely does exist. Whether this relationship is the result of correlation or causation, however, I still do not know. I hypothesize that the biological effects of stress on the body somehow affect the DNA to promote cellular reproduction.

Works Cited

Contrada, Richard, and Andrew Baum. The Handbook of Stress Science: Biology,
Psychology, and Health. Springer, 2011. Print.

Moreno-Smith, Myrthala. “Impact of Stress on Cancer Metastasis.” Future Oncol 6.12
(2010): 1863-881. PMC. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. <

Selye, Hans. The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956. Print.


One thought on “Research Proposal (Revised): Stress and Cancer

  1. sariegel says:

    Colin, this proposal looks great. I really like your use of headings to really organize your thoughts. Your choice to narrow your focus to stress effects on cancer will allow you to gain more specific, and possibly more interesting, information without killing yourself. I am looking forward to reading your paper to see whether and how stress affects cellular reproduction, promoting cancer.

    The way you have clearly outlined your probable research steps shows you’ve really taken the time to think through your topic and current research findings. I’m sure these steps will provide great help to you as you continue your research process, especially since this is usually a rather messy one. Regarding your first question in the “Zeroing In” portion of your paper, did you perhaps mean to ask how stress exacerbates the growth of cancer cells? Your use of the word “inhibit” would suggest that you expect to see that stress has a positive effect on cancer development.

    You’ve done a great job mapping the scholarship of your research so far, particularly with the explanation of Hans Selye’s work. It’s important that you mention seeing a correlation between stress and cancer, and express unsureness of whether this correlation implies causation. You might not ever be able to ascertain this because of all the other side effects and competing factors you mentioned. That in itself could be useful to your paper. The transition you make between the “what” and the “how” of this correlation is a tremendous, and I think necessary, step. I would encourage you to make the “how” elements of your overall question be the most prevalent in your final paper. I can’t wait to see what you find!

    Liked by 1 person

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