A Kaiser Permanente study published in the November issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment showed that either large or high quality social networks extended survival in early-stage invasive breast cancer. They looked at more than 2200 women and found that those who were socially isolated were 34% more likely to die. Women with small networks were not at increased risk of death, but those with small and unsupportive had a 61% higher risk of early mortality.
Earlier work published in 1989 by David Spiegel, MD, from Stanford Medical Center suggested that supportive, expressive group therapy doubled life expectancy in far advanced cancer. In fact, in his study the control group lived an average of 18 months and the treated group lived 36 months. Followup studies have shown mixed results.