Mind and Cancer
Even though there is strong evidence between the progression of cancer and psychological stress, the inverse relationship is not as strong. The mind does not create the disease and the mind cannot cure cancer without conventional treatments. Cancer remains a multifactorial disease that includes genetics, lifestyle and the environment. Stress that is chronic can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, and various other illnesses. Negative stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, smoking, abusing drugs or alcohol, that may affect cancer risk. Stress may lower the immune system and increase susceptibility to viral-related cancers. Stress may damage DNA and modulate gene expression. Stress may even compromise patient’s screening appointments. But it is NOT the cause of the disease. Some people may lead very stressful lives and develop heart disease (not cancer). Others may lead very “zen” lives and develop cancer just because they live in a polluted or radio-active environment. Therefore it is better to refrain from simplistic cause and effect explanations for such a complex disease.
There is a link between “physical” and “mental”, but the mind-body connection is just a connection, it is not a highway. It is not Mind over Body, but simply that mind matters. Therefore, it is important for patients to receive integrative whole-person care and be evaluated in all bio-psycho-social aspects of health.
Psychological Stress and Cancer: Questions and Answers:
Mind Matters in Cancer Survival: