How does stress affect people who have cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute, “Studies have indicated that stress can affect tumor growth and spread, but the precise biological mechanisms underlying these effects are not well understood. Scientists have suggested that the effects of stress on the immune system may in turn affect the growth of some tumors. However, recent research using animal models indicates that the body’s release of stress hormones can affect cancer cell functions directly. A review of studies that evaluated psychological factors and outcome in cancer patients suggests an association between certain psychological factors, such as feeling helpless or suppressing negative emotions, and the growth or spread of cancer, although this relationship was not consistently seen in all studies. In general, stronger relationships have been found between psychological factors and cancer growth and spread than between psychological factors and cancer development.
Stress in your Life
Stress can build, influencing how you feel about life. Prolonged stress may lead to frustration, anger, hopelessness, and — at times even depression. The effects of stress are amplified when your body is out of balance.
To Reduce Stress:
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Accept that there are events you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. “Assert” your feelings, opinions or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative or passive.
- Learn to relax.
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
- Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.