The mind is a powerful force, that can have a strong influence over your physical self. Is there a link between your thoughts and cancer prevention?
In 1998, 30,000 adults were asked two simple questions.
First, “How much stress do you have in your life?” And second, “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?” Ten years later, the researchers looked at the death rates of those they interviewed. The researchers found a whopping 43% increase in the risk of death among those with the highest levels of stress. BUT…this was ONLY found among those who BELIEVED stress was harmful. Those with high levels of stress but did not believe stress was harmful had the LOWEST levels of risk.
Sure stress can cause physical problems, but stress as a causative factor in cancer is a weak one, with some studies showing no link and others demonstrating some mild level connection. That link may come about because people with stress engage in behaviors that weaken their immune system and increase their risk of cancer.
Studies show that happy people live up to ten years longer than unhappy people, with those happy feelings filling their bodies with oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide and endorphins. These same signaling molecules activate the body’s cancer fighting abilities. In fact, depressive feelings are connected to greater signs of inflammation in breast cancer.
What can you do to promote positivity and prevent stress?
Use guided imagery, mindfulness and meditation to quiet your mind.
Mindfulness means taking some time to be aware, present and non-judgmental (no robes, incense or sitting cross-legged necessary).
Before you go to sleep, think about what went right that day. Then, as soon as you wake up, think about a few things that can go right on the new day.
Catch those thoughts that are attached to your negative feelings.
Are you predicting gloom and doom? Are you thinking that life will never be better? Do you think that you “must” perform perfectly? Then ask yourself if those beliefs are true, helpful, and kind to you? Replace those thoughts with more accurate, logical and rational ones.
Don’t underestimate the role that spirituality, gratitude and healthy supportive relationships play in promoting positivity and preventing stress.
Be physically active. Not too much. Mostly everyday. Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect in reducing the risk of breast cancer. While premenopausal and postmenopausal women derive benefit from exercise in breast cancer risk, adolescent girls may find significant protection from breast cancer.
It appears that exercise prevents tumor development by lowering hormone levels and improving immune response.
Stay tuned for more tips on cancer prevention.