27 February 2013

Stress and cancer: the sensitivity of the body, mind and soul

Life is moving at an ever increasing pace allowing for little if any quiet time to connect with what is happening in our bodies and minds. This developing trend of disconnection is fuelling systemic illness of body, mind and soul everywhere you look.

Cancer is now the primary cause of death in developed countries and the second leading cause in developing countries. Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Broadly speaking there are more than 100 different types of cancer. It can be called a disease of the genome. The DNA in our cells contains the code needed for our cells to function properly. This set of code is very complex and during the normal life cycle of the cell errors may become introduced. Luckily our cells have evolved with many check points which shut cells down if it is likely they have become corrupted. A good example of this is sunburn, where the cells that have been exposed to the powerful mutagens in the sun – ultra violet (UV) rays – suicide as it is highly possible their DNA may have been mutated.

The human psyche or soul is extraordinarily sensitive and complex. Our disconnection from what is really going on in our bodies everyday is evident in how much psychological stress we are living under - and the ramifications this is having on our health is frightening. Interestingly the word ‘psychiatry’, literally means ‘soul-healing’ and the study of psychology is really all about is the word ‘psychosis’, which literally means ‘soul-illness’ [1].

There are many different causes for the all different types of cancer. Recent studies have shown stress hormones may fuel the growth of some cancers [2, 3]. Evidence suggests stress may impact on the effectiveness of the immune system preventing normal the ‘shut down’ mechanism operating in cells with damaged DNA which can go on to become cancerous [4].

This highlights the chronic need for balance in our lives. We all intuitively know the fast paced lifestyle we lead must have its consequences, but we are very good at distracting ourselves from the obvious. Many will dismiss the need to reduce stress from our lives as an impossible task. However, no one disputes the gravity of the situation when they hear the statistics relating to cancer. Reducing chronic stress is vital for our well-being. The scientific facts of this all important disease are now speaking for themselves showing us how imperative it is to reconnect with our body, mind and soul if we are to help diminish the impact of this incredibly serious epidemic.

  1. Griffith, J (2012) Soul. World Transformation Movement. Retrieved from http://www.worldtransformation.com/soul/
  2. Thaker et al. (2006) Chronic stress promotes tumour growth and angiogenesis in the mouse model of ovarian carcinoma. Nature Medicine. 12, 939-944.
  3. Sood et al. (2010) Adrenergic modulation of focal adhesion kinase protects human ovarian cancer cells from anoikis. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 120, 1515-1523.
  4. Antoni MH et al. (2006) The influence of bio-behavioural factors of tumour biology: Pathways and mechanisms. Nature Reviews Cancer 6, 240-248.