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Capstone

Breast Cancer and Personality Type

1 August 2007

Abstract

This project examines the role of personality types and the increased risk of developing breast cancer, specifically introverted personalities and extroverted personalities. According to the American Cancer Society, every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. A lot of research has been done on the possible relationship between diet, lifestyle, and genetics and increased risk of breast cancer. The. purpose of this research project is to see if there is any correlation between a woman's mind/emotions/personality and her risk of developing breast cancer. The theory being that women who tend to hold in their emotions, carry the weight of the world upon their shoulders, are people pleasers, and harbor deep-seated emotions or unresolved conflict, would tend to be more prone to illness and disease. A survey, adapted from the Jung Typology Test, was used to distinguish between the two personality types. It was distributed to female breast cancer patients, and patients without breast cancer, at a medical clinic in Portland which specializes in plastic surgery, specifically breast reconstruction surgery.

Total participants included 44 women. 23 were introverts (52.27%),21 introverts had a diagnosis of breast CA (91.3%), and 2 introverts did not have a breast CA diagnosis (4.55%). 19 of the total participants were extroverts (43.18%), 13 extroverts had a diagnosis of breast CA (29.55%), and 6 extroverts did not have a breast CA diagnosis (13.64%). 2 participants were balanced (mixed extrovert and introvert, evenly scored), (4.55%). 2 of the participants did not have a breast CA diagnosis. According to this study, the relative risk of being an introvert having a breast cancer diagnosis is 1.34. The absolute risk is .91.

This study found a correlation with increased risk of developing breast cancer among introverted personalities. Since 75% of the general population is considered extroverts, in theory, the majority of the participants in this study "should" be extroverts. It was much lower in this population, with only 43 % of the women being extroverts, and of those, 30% were diagnosed with breast cancer. 52% of the women were found to be introverts and of this group, 91 % were diagnosed with breast cancer. With such a significant increase of breast cancer in the introvert group, this raises some poignant questions about the relationship between our. thoughts/minds/personalities and the increased risk of disease.


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