Many people often ask whether their stress could cause them to get cancer. It is a fair question when you look at the many proven adverse effects that stress inflicts on our bodies and minds. Let us look into whether stress alone has the ability to cause cancer or if there are other factors at play. We will also look at how stress may impact you if you have already been diagnosed with cancer.
Does Stress Cause Cancer?
Let us relieve a bit of your stress right away by saying there is very little if any scientific proof that stress does indeed cause cancer. What stress has been proven to do, is upset the balance of your body’s hormones. While our bodies may be able to cope with small or infrequent amounts of stress, chronic stress can lead to many serious issues including severe anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
When it comes to stress and cancer, the better question to ask is whether or not stress can lead to cancer. Cancer is a complex disease that often results from both environmental and hereditary factors. You may develop some forms of cancer no matter how much awareness and preventative steps you take, while other cancers may be more dependent on your actions or behaviors. For cancers that are largely caused by our behaviors, the ways we choose to deal with our stress may be what puts us at a greater risk for developing these forms of cancer.
Poor Ways of Dealing with Stress and How They May Lead to Cancer
Often when we become stressed, we have a tendency to resort to unhealthy behaviors. These behaviors may include binge eating or not eating at all, heavy consumption of alcohol, smoking, drugs, or not getting proper exercise or sleep.
Many of these unhealthy behaviors have been proven to cause forms of cancer. Alcohol consumption, for instance, puts you at a greater risk for developing cancers of the mouth, larynx, stomach, bowel, and liver. Most of us are aware smoking causes lung cancer by damaging the cells that line the lungs. And a recent one year study in the U.S. estimated around 1000,000 new cases of cancer found in men and women were attributed to being overweight or obese. These cancers included gallbladder and esophageal cancer to name a few.
Chronic stress also has the ability to weaken our immune system, which may make us more susceptible to developing forms of cancer. Stress may also cause many of us to become less focused on our bodies and we may not be checking for lumps or other early signs of cancer such as breast cancer. Recognizing and finding healthy ways to deal with stress are vital to keeping our bodies running in good order so as to avoid increasing our chances of developing cancer.
Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress and Avoid Cancer
The first step to dealing with stress is to recognize what is causing the stress. The next best step would then be to remove the stressor, however, this may not always be simple or possible. If you do find yourself getting stressed, it is important to take a timeout to gather your thoughts and work out a plan to deal with whatever is causing you stress.
Learn to avoid or prepare yourself for stressful situations and should your stress be caused by anxiety or worry, ask yourself whether or not your thoughts are rational. While you work through your stress, it is vital that you retain healthy eating habits and get adequate exercise through things like yoga and meditation. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and maybe look to meditation to put your mind at ease. Many of these things will not only help you deal with stress much more easily, but they could potentially keep many cancers from forming.
Dealing With Stress When You Have Cancer
Being diagnosed with cancer can bring on a great deal of physical and emotional stress. While practicing healthy stress coping techniques may not have the ability to cure or improve your cancer survival, studies have shown that you may be able to decrease the growth and spread of your cancer by effectively managing your stress.
Stress brought on by cancer can lead to developing a sense of hopelessness. This, in turn, may cause patients to not seek out helpful cancer treatments or not stick to their treatments as they should. While finding ways to manage your stress may not change the outlook of your cancer, you can greatly improve the quality of life you experience by reducing your stress as much as possible.
Every year, scientists and doctors are developing new approaches to treating cancer. While we may not have developed a cure for cancer yet, there are many treatments that have been proven effective for pushing cancer into remission. Chemotherapy can suppress the body’s hormone production which many cancers rely on to be able to grow. Surgery can be used to remove cancer cells from the body. Immunotherapy aims to boost the immune system to help it fight cancer. Radiotherapy uses high energy radiation to destroy cancer cells or impede their growth.
The best thing to remember if you have cancer is there is always hope. Miracles happen every day as people manage to beat their cancer. Learning to manage your stress may be the first step to your fight.