Does Stress Cause Cancer?
Why does stress make us ill? Is it true that stress causes cancer?
How can we manage stress?
Is it possible to avoid it altogether or can we make it manageable in our lives rather than letting it take over everything?
It seems to many people that stress is everywhere. It seems for a lot of people that stress is just ‘part of life’. We've almost become to expect that there's nothing that you can do about it. But is that true? I'd like to think about why we get stressed and what that does to our bodies.
To be honest, this is something I didn't really appreciate until after I had my cancer treatment and I started a mission to take responsibility for my health and do everything I could to avoid getting ill again. I have reflected upon the way that I was living and my lifestyle, and I’ve realized that for many years I'd been stressed constantly for various reasons.
Maybe you can relate to that? It’s so very common. It wasn't until I spoke to a doctor who explained to me, that the stress is your body's natural and very clever way of dealing with a situation and all your wonderful body is trying to do is to keep you safe. So, if we go back thousands of years ago and think about where we've evolved from, when we were living in caves and there was danger outside from a variety of wild animals who wanted to kill and eat us.
Our body's instinctive job was to keep us out of danger and alive. In those situations where there was danger, your body's natural response is either ‘fight or flight or freeze’. You may have heard of this expression, and basically what it means is when you are in a very stressful situation where you need to do something quickly, for instance, run away from a wild animal, you don't think about it, your body just instinctively goes into one of these modes and that is simply to keep you safe.
So your brain takes charge and says, ‘There’s danger here’ no time to think about what's going on, and ponder on various options, We are just going to respond instinctively, and that's a great response if there's a wild animal chasing you, you don't need to think about things'.
You just need all of your energy and all of your blood supply go into your arms and legs so you can run away as fast as you can out of that situation. Or possibly you may choose to stay and fight, but whatever you do the brain is very clever. It's directing the energy and the blood flow and all of your energy to where it needs to go to keep you safe.
What it doesn't do in that situation is all the natural things that we do without even thinking about it, like breathing. Our bodies are amazing, and I've learned more about this through my nutritional healing studying. Our bodies are just wonderful.
If you think about when you cut your finger, your body is really clever. It sends all the right blood cells to the site. It starts to produce scar tissue, and it starts to heal itself. Your body is programmed to heal itself, but sometimes we just get in the way of that. If you think about the billions of cells that we've got within our bodies, they are constantly dying, renewing, regenerating themselves, and it is said that every seven years you get a complete new body, absolutely everything has been replaced.
I’ve recently heard that survivors of abuse celebrate seven years after the abuse stops – for that very reason. After this time, the whole of their bodies have been completely renewed – at least once, every single one of their cells. So the abuse now belongs in the past – in their ‘old’ bodies, not the current one.
I love thinking about this – so many cancer survivors get caught up in the mindset that ‘it always comes back’. But I refuse to accept that as my reality.
So does this relate to stress? As I've said, normally without even thinking about it, just as we are now and we are breathing, our brain is doing a great job of running our immune system, our digestive systems, our reproductive and hormonal systems. Our bodies are doing a great job of regulating everything that we need to keep us healthy and safe. We’re not even aware, it just happens beautifully.
But when we are in stress, the body, again, just trying to keep us safe, says, 'no, no, no, we haven't got time for all that, its’ ‘fight, flight or freeze – now!’
So your blood supply goes straight to your arms and legs so you can run away, and that's fine for a short period of time. But what if we are stressed over a long period of time? For instance, if you've got problems at work or in a relationship, or you've got financial problems, whatever it is, if that goes on for any period of time, that is not how we are designed to live, and your body simply becomes chronically stressed, and that's a real danger for your health.
Long term stress is often there without us being conscious of it. Somebody said to me the other day ‘I sometimes get my best ideas in the shower’ and I thought that's true for me as well.
And you know why that is? It's because when you're in the shower, hopefully you've left all your worries outside of that door. You've gone in, you're very, relaxed. And that's when your brain sort of comes to life. It's not doing anything else. Your unconscious mind thinks, okay, I've got time now to relax. I can be creative. I can solve this problem that you have. Maybe you're not even thinking about that problem consciously, but it's there and your brain will come up with solutions because you are relaxed and you can be creative, and you can be your full, wonderful inventive self that you can be. at your best
If you've been stressed, or ill, you might hear the expression, ‘I really can't see the wood for the trees. I'm just muddled thinking, or brain fog. Or sometimes it gets labelled as ‘chemo brain’ All of these things come with stress, just muddled thinking, where your brain is just tired, tired of trying to make sense of the world. But the first thing, most important thing to recognize, this isn't how we are supposed to be.
Which brings me onto the question of does stress cause cancer? And of course, I'm not a doctor, but I've been studying this for many, many years. Like my life depended on it. Because it does.
My answer would be yes, stress does lead to cancer. You may not be able to pinpoint the events that started your stress, although some people can. And we also think about the fact that it has now become accepted, a sort of common knowledge that one in two people will, in their lifetime develop some sort of cancer, and that just feels very wrong to me.
Could it be because of the way that we are living where stress has become the norm? Where everybody that you know says, ‘I'm so stressed, I'm so stressed, I'm stressed at work. I'm so busy’. Of course, and I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm here to invite you to think about this.
Are you stressed? Are you living in a way that's not supporting your health? Where your body, your lovely body, can just heal itself in a beautiful, natural way. I've written before about how you can have the best diet in the world, you can eat the best food, you can be on the best drugs that are available for your condition, but if you don't address the underlying stress that's caused you to get ill in the first place, what are the chances of optimum health?
I mentioned before about going into ‘fight or flight’, when you are in that state your digestive system is not going to be working to its full effect. I’ve heard of people who have really excellent diets who are almost suffering with malnutrition because their body is not absorbing all the nutrients in that wonderful food that they're eating, because they are too stressed.
So what can we do about this? There are lots and lots of things that you can do, but the most important thing is to understand this is a very individual thing for us all, but consider - what do you do to relax? What do you do that makes you happy? Because you need to do more of that.
I've got some suggestions. But I'm not here to preach to you or tell you what to do, you must pick and choose what works for you. Do you need to get out in nature more? Do you need to do more exercise? Do you show and receive love often? Do you need to connect with like-minded people? And I would really encourage you if you are not connected with people who've got the same values and the same focus as you – to make an effort to find your tribe.
Find people who are interested in what you are interested in. People who are on the same wavelength as you. People who energize you and don't drain your energy. Those are the people you need to be spending time with. Are you spending time with people who make you laugh, who make you forget your troubles?
I hope you do. I've got some dear friends that make me laugh, and I make it my business now to make sure I have time in my busy schedule to spend time around them. Meditation works for many people. To be honest, I struggle with this, although what I've learned to do now is to listen to a meditation soundtrack, just put headphones in and listen to that calm, soothing voice really helps me to relax.
Just sitting for five minutes a day can do you the world of good.
The other thing that you can do to relax is being creative, so that you are using different parts of your brain. Just like when we are in the shower. If you can enjoy being creative, it may be writing music, dancing, writing blogs or poetry, it might be listening to podcasts or appreciating all of the things that other people have created.
Spend some time doing that. The other big thing that I would counsel used to do is to curate your input. If you are thinking very carefully about the things that you are watching and listening to and thinking about every day, so for instance, for me, I know that listening to the news on the television does me no good at all. It doesn't uplift me. It makes me fearful if I watch it for too long. And so I choose to have minimal exposure to watching the news on the tv, but everyone is different. I would also advise you to curate your input from social media. I love social media. It can be a great way to connect with my tribe.
I try not to just listen and follow people who have got the same points of view of me. However, it's difficult when you follow some people on, on social media and you are seeing things that you find offensive or you've seen things that make you angry. You know, I've got a keen and interest in politics, but I've realized that some of the people I follow, they're quite angry.
And you could say rightly so with what's going on in the world, we should be angry. But that anger and that energy is not what I want to be bringing into my life, and particularly just before I go to sleep. And so I'm very conscious of what I listen to and what I read in the evening before I go to bed.
And the other big piece of advice that I would give you is stay curious. There is so much in the world that you can learn so many things that you can get involved with. And for me, I've learned this from my grandchildren because I'm seeing the world through their eyes again. You know, my children have grown up and I've almost forgotten what it's like for a five year old, for a seven year old, for a young person to be totally in awe of the magic in the world.
And so for me, I love that the secret to enjoying life is staying curious and to carry on learning. And I am currently learning emotional freedom technique, which you may have heard of E F T or tapping. It's a wonderful technique used for relaxation and you can find lots of free videos on YouTube. You can just follow somebody along and want some more experience with it.
So I hope I've given you some food for thought. and just to think about for a minute why stress might make us ill, and also think about what are the things that you can do, because I do think that's a very positive thing. Once you stop and think about it, there are lots of things that you can do.
I'm off now to sort some of these things out. I'm going to go and read a good book. If you need any help with anything, I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening to my podcast, or reading my blog. It really means a lot to me
Thanks for reading
Stay safe, stay sane!
As always I am always here for you,
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