stress, a killer?

we’ve all heard that expression, right?
well its true.
stress will kill you
and scientific evidence exists
to prove this claim
and to question the science
behind the following claim

“smoking causes cancer.”

in his book when the body says no, (click title for link to gabor mate (pronounced mat-eh) walks readers through the biochemistry behind the mind-body connection. fascinating stuff? anyone with a uterus will tell you that stress can toss the body’s delicate hormonal balance off kilter. so, then … take this one step further. a guy – british thoracic surgeon who calls himself Kissen – did take this further. he noticed, via his clinical practice, an intimate connection between emotionally repressive personality patterns and incidence of lung cancer. and then, a longitudinal study, conducted on a stable population in europe over a 10 year period, confirmed Kissen’s insights.

essentially, it all boils down to this:

smoking no more causes cancer than being thrown into deep water causes drowning … a combination of factors is necessary to cause drowning. fatal as immersion in deep water can be to the unprotected non-swimmer, for someone who swims well or is equipped with a life jacket, it poses little risk. it is the same with lung cancer. (p. 85)

so. what am i saying?

  1. repression of emotion, particularly anger, is the single greatest risk factor for death, esp, but not only, d/t cancer (emotional repression potentiates the effects of smoke and other carcinongens within the body)
  2. psychological influences create physiological changes in the body which contribute to the onset of malignant disease (science and clinical practice tell us that, at every level, a mind-body connection exisits)
  3. individual internal perceptions bear as much influence as external threats in development of disease , esp. cancer, in our bodies

lets expand no. 2, shall we?

  1. thru the HYPOTHALAMUS-PITUITARY-ADRENAL nexus (a pathway of glands in our bodies that govern metobolism and general bodily function), both physical and psychological stress influence our physiology — ie stress activates the HPA nexus, sending our delicate hormonal balance out of its equilibrium
  2. unmet emotional needs — ie uncertanty, lack of control, lack of information — strongly activate the HPA nexus
  3. consummatory behaviour (behaviour which removes the danger or relieves the tension cause by it), and restoring sense of control, each result in immediate supression of HPA activity
  4. emotional stress impairs the body’s built-in DNA and cellular repair mechanisms (i)habitual emotional repression leaves a person in a state of chronic stress, (ii)creating an unnatural biochemical environment in the body; (iii)the perpetually high levels of steroid hormones (we secrete hormones when we are stressed out) can interfere with normal programmed cell death
  5. depression (“a mental state in which repression of anger dominates emotional functioning”) potentiates the inhibitory effect of smoke on the natural killer cells (ie it compromises our body’s ability to fight off disease)
  6. disease is not a simple result of some external attack, but develops in hosts in whom the internal environment has become disordered
  7. the human endocrime system is an important mediator between the psyche and the tumor (a) a person’s emotional personality pattern plays a role in either facilitating tumor promotion or dampening or accentuating the impact of environmental stressors (b) tumors are hormonally dependent, arising in organs that interact hormonally
  8. social subordination activates the HPA
  9. the stresses that create the problems with self nurture are also the ones that predispose to disease
  10. for most cancers there is no identifed carcinogen. it is the internal environment that plays the major role in deciding whether the malignancy will flourish or be eliminated.
  11. key to fighting cancer is not just prevention and/or control of its spread … but understanding under what conditions existing dormant tumor deposits become malignant
  12. inability to express emotion, particularly anger, has shown up as the most consistently idenified risk factor for cancer in various studies

link to the book’s website here, in case you’re interested. simply put, this message in all this? that we can influence our health status simply by means of our response to life. our ability to process what we encounter. to stick to our convictions. to set our own limits. constructively express our own emotions. our friend ben writes: “life is change. life is energy. life is your chance to create yourself and your world as you wish them to be.” i think that’s what gabor mate means, too, thru his writings and work. we CAN make a difference. it sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it?


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Filed under disease, health, mind-body, stress

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