Does stress cause breast cancer to develop, recur, or spread? Stress happens when push comes to shove. If you experience some force, pressure, or demand on your body, mind, or emotions that causes tension or distress, you will respond or react in some way. For some, stress is a powerful motivator, and for others, it may cause emotional, mental, and even physical symptoms. Let's take a look at stress and see whether it may be a risk factor for breast cancer.