Research suggests that socializing may help ease breast cancer pain and enhance a patient’s quality of life.
The study examined more than 3,100 women in California who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2011. After about two months of their diagnosis, they filled out questionnaires on their social networks, the kinds of support they received, their emotional and physical quality of life, and their physical symptoms from breast cancer.
Women that had the biggest social networks were most likely to report the best overall quality of life during treatment. Higher levels of social support were also linked with better emotional quality of life, Kaiser Permanente researchers say.
Patients with little or no positive social interaction were three times more likely to report a low quality of life and more physical symptoms, the study found.
Tangible support from others—such as bringing food over or driving a patient to a doctor visit—were strongest for women with late-stage breast cancer.
The study was published May 9 in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
“This study provides research-based evidence that social support helps with physical symptoms,” study author Candyce Kroenke, a staff scientist with the Kaiser Permanente division of research, said in a Kaiser news release.
Whether it’s having tea together, playing with kids or simply catching up, interacting with someone who has breast cancer can make a difference in their day–and maybe in their prognosis.