, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 259-267
Date: 14 Feb 2007

Psychological attitudes and risk of breast cancer in Japan: a prospective study

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To examine the association between psychological factors and the risk of breast cancer prospectively in a non-Western population.


Data from the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) study were analyzed. From 1988 to 1990, 34,497 women aged 40–79 years completed a questionnaire on medical, lifestyle and psychosocial factors. The rate ratios (RRs) of their responses were computed by fitting to proportional hazards models.


During the mean follow-up period of 7.5 years, 149 breast cancer cases were documented. Those individuals who possessed “ikigai” (Japanese term meaning something that made one’s life worth living) showed a significantly lower risk of breast cancer (multivariate-adjusted RR = 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.47–0.94). Those who perceived themselves as able to make decisions quickly also had a lower risk of breast cancer (multivariate-adjusted RR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.36–0.87). The other factors investigated, including ease of anger arousal and self-perceived stress of daily life were not associated with breast cancer risk.


Although further studies will be necessary to verify these findings, our results suggest that having “ikigai” and being decisive decrease an individual’s subsequent risk of breast cancer.