Stress and Cancer

Stress and Cancer

In this video, Sumit Mehrotra from Wellkasa, talks to Donald Abrams, MD, Integrative Oncologist, to learn about stress, its effect on the body, and stress reduction therapies and supplements. See this informative 10-minute video to learn particularly about the benefits and risks of stress reduction therapies as well as the impact of stress on people with cancer.

What is stress and how does it affect the body?

When you are feeling stressed, your body is experiencing a fight or flight response. As part of this response, the sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. These stress hormones can act as an immune suppressant by killing lymphocytes, which fight disease in your body. As such, long term stress can make the body more vulnerable to cancer or other diseases. Additionally, stress also interferes with sleep and can impact relationships with family and friends. Therefore, decreasing stress is important.

What percentage of cancer patients show signs of stress after a cancer diagnosis? 

Newly diagnosed patients are generally more stressed than survivors of cancer. Also, people with a more chronic cancer may experience more stress. However, everyone has a different level of stress when dealing with a cancer diagnosis or other stressful event.

Therapies to help manage stress 

  • Physical activity, especially yoga
    • Physical activity may help increase production of endorphins, which decrease pain and improve the feeling of wellbeing. Additionally, exercise can improve self-confidence, mood, and sleep quality, all of which are disrupted by stress.
  • Acupuncture
    • Acupuncture eases stress by releasing natural chemicals called endorphins, which naturally reduce pain. Additionally, acupuncture can improve blood circulation in the body, which oxygenates tissues and cycles out cortisol and other unwanted chemicals.
  • Massage and energy medicine interventions
    • Research shows that massage has many benefits, including increasing the flow of oxygen in the blood, allowing muscles to relax, and stimulating the healing of connective tissue or damaged muscles. Additionally, massage therapy can transform nervous energy into a more steady state, restoring balance to the body.
  • Breathing exercises
    • The breath is a link between the mind and the body. Therefore, doing breathing exercises can help the mind relax and thus help the body feel better.
    • Some breathing exercises include yoga, meditation, and hypnosis
  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium can be taken as a supplement to reduce stress as it has been found to be calming.
  • The botanicals:

 Risks of Stress Reduction Therapies

Dr. Abrams recommends that patients don’t overdo physical activity based on their age and fitness. Additionally, he says that cannabis may cause some dizziness or lowering/increasing of blood pressure or pulse, especially for elderly and people with heart issues. However, in general, many of these therapies are not particularly harmful.

 

See the full video below