Friendship doesn’t just improve survival for breast cancer patients — it could also help ease their pain and symptoms, according to a new study from Kaiser Permanente researchers.
The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, shows that having strong social ties and interactions is linked with greater quality of life — both emotional and physical — for breast cancer patients.
“This study provides research-based evidence that social support helps with physical symptoms,” study researcher Candyce H. Kroenke, ScD, MPH, a staff scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, said in a statement. “Social support mechanisms matter in terms of physical outcomes.”
The study is based on data from 3,139 women who are members of Kaiser Permanente in California who were diagnosed with breast cancer sometime between 2006 and 2011. The study participants all took questionnaires within two months of being diagnosed that asked them about their friendships, relationships and other social ties, their level of social support, their quality of life and their breast cancer symptoms.
Researchers found correlations between having strong support systems and friendships/relationships with all quality of life measures, while those with little social support actually reported more breast cancer symptoms. Support was especially linked with improved quality of life for late-stage breast cancer patients.
The same researchers found last year that social ties are also linked with a lower risk of dying for breast cancer patients. HuffPost Women previously reported:
The researchers determined that while the quantity of social ties a woman has impacts mortality more, the importance of quality shouldn’t be discounted. Indeed, women with small networks and low levels of support were 61 percent more likely to die from breast cancer and other causes than those with small networks and high levels of support.
For more health benefits of friendship, click through the slideshow: