Psychosocial stress and prostate cancer: A theoretical model

Gary L. Ellison, Ann L. Coker, James R. Hebert, Maureen Sanderson, Charmaine D. Royal, Sally P. Weinrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


African-American men are more likely to develop and die from prostate cancer than are European-American men; yet, factors responsible for the racial disparity in incidence and mortality have not been elucidated. Socioeconomic disadvantage is more prevalent among African-American than among European-American men. Socioeconomic disadvantage can lead to psychosocial stress and may be linked to negative lifestyle behaviors. Regardless of socioeconomic position, African-American men routinely experience racism-induced stress. We propose a theoretical framework for an association between psychosocial stress and prostate cancer. Within the context of history and culture, we further propose that psychosocial stress may partially explain the variable incidence of prostate cancer between these diverse groups. Psychosocial stress may negatively impact the immune system leaving the individual susceptible to malignancies. Behavioral responses to psychosocial stress are amenable to change. If psychosocial stress is found to negatively impact prostate cancer risk, interventions may be designed to modify reactions to environmental demands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-495
Number of pages12
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • African American
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Psychological Stress
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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