Cancer

Halt Cancer With Positive Emotions?

Seems like a trick question, but reducing stress and being in a positive state of mind is important and now shown to be clinically relevant.

I saw how important stress management was during Anita’s journey (see an interview with her here), and in fact, it was the stress component of cancer care that drove me to seek out training from the Bulletproof Training Institute’s Human Potential Coaching program.

A new article out last month summarizes new findings:

From savoring a piece of cake to hugging a friend, many of life’s pleasures trigger a similar reaction in the brain—a surge of chemicals that tell the body “that was good, do it again.” Research published Friday in Nature Communications suggests this feel-good circuit may do much more. Using lab tools to activate that reward circuit in mice, scientists discovered that its chemical signals reach the immune system, empowering a subset of bone marrow cells to slow the growth of tumors. The findings have yet to be confirmed in humans. But given the reward system is linked with positive emotions, the research offers a physiological mechanism for how a person’s psychological state could help to stall cancer progression.

While I would take issue with a piece of cake being the best example (talk about a blood sugar rush), having an identified mechanism can be helpful in educating patients on moving fun up in the priority list.

From the Nature Communications piece specifically:

Given the central role of the reward system in positive emotions, these findings introduce a physiological mechanism whereby the patient’s psychological state can impact anti-tumor immunity and cancer progression.

It has been documented for some time that stress creates an environment where cancer thrives.

Stress is the most powerful carcinogen imaginable. It increases inflammation, spikes blood sugar, and disables the immune system. Metastasis is promoted when the body or mind is stressed, and so is angiogenesis. Yet chronic stress in its many forms—emotional, physical and chemical—is the norm of modern living.
Nasha Winters and Jess Higgins Kelley and and Kelly Turner, The Metabolic Approach to Cancer: Integrating Deep Nutrition, the Ketogenic Diet, and Nontoxic Bio-Individualized Therapies, loc. 4543
So, with it previously established that stress can promote cancer, and now with the emergence of a mechanism where a positive state of mind can impact anti-tumor immunity and slow progression, it is time to put stress management near the top of the treatment mapping discussion.
Some tips:
  • incorporate meditation
  • time outdoors, and barefoot on the earth for a bonus (called grounding)
  • Committing to and scheduling fun activities that bring a smile or enjoyment to the patient’s experience. Scheduling cannot be overlooked here, looking forward to something builds anticipation and puts future days in a more positive light.
    • When possible bring family/friends into activities where possible, being with others can enhance the experience and the reward circuits mentioned in the new articles referenced above.

While the thought of having fun is in opposition to the thought of battling cancer, it is certainly important. In our training through BTI, we have been exposed to and tried many different relaxation/meditation/presencing techniques. This is something that can be developed with the help of a partner in success.  Please reach out if we might be able to work together.

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