I remember people used to say to me all the time, “It’s so hard to believe, you of all people got cancer.” This usually came from friends who knew I exercised and ate more vegetables than most people did in 1998.
But one thing they didn’t know was how stressed out I felt two years prior my to diagnosis, while trying my best to manage career, motherhood and marriage.
My gut told me that if something didn’t change I was going to get sick, as I felt completely out of balance, but little did I know the devastating affect chronic stress can have on the body.
In the last 20 years, research has begun to support what my gut was telling me all along—that letting go of stress is vital for good health.
One of the groundbreaking studies on stress was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991. In this study, 420 men and woman took a survey on a variety of factors, including their levels of stress. The majority of people were given a nasal spray that contained a cold virus and some were given a saline spray. The participants that reported being more stressed prior developed a full-on cold, while the ones reporting that they were less stressed initially were better able to defend against the virus. Stress was the only factor listed on the survey that made a significant difference in the outcome, showing that holding onto stress makes you more susceptible to developing disease.
Since this landmark study, hundreds of other studies have shown that stress is associated with not only the common cold but with other issues like heart disease, autoimmune disorders and cancer.
Although no one has proven that stress alone causes cancer, one thing researches have concluded is that stress suppresses the immune system, and the immune system plays a vital role in detecting and removing cancer cells from the body.
The good news is that stress management works!
Studies have shown that releasing feelings of stress, anger or fear can strengthen the immune system in a fairly short amount of time. In one study, breast cancer patients who took a ten-week stress management class showed increased white blood cell count at the end, as compared to the control group who did not take the class. In another study, melanoma cancer patients who participated in a six-week course on stress management and relaxation techniques show a significant increase in natural killer cells (NK) activity, as compared to a control group of melanoma patients who did not take the course. This is really important because natural killer cells are what our immune system uses to kill cancer cells.
So what are some other ways to manage your stress?
- Listen to a guided meditation
- Try restorative yoga
- Take a walk in nature
- Write in a gratitude journal
- Watch a funny movie
With love and less stress,
P.S. Ready to feel more confident in your body again? Schedule your Confidently Cancer-Free Breakthrough Session today!