Psychological stress refers to the feelings, which people feel when they are under physical, mental or emotional pressure. However, it is very common to suffer from it infrequently but when someone suffers from its high levels or experiences it repeatedly for a long period of time, it may cause health problems. Those medical conditions can be physical (including cancer) or mental. Managing stress can be helpful in cancer prevention and various other health conditions.
Stress can be the result of everyday jobs and events, as well as by other serious events such as illness or trauma. Some of its other common causes are:
- Facing lots of pressure
- Worrying about something
- Having responsibilities that are making you feel buried
- Lack of work or activities
- Period of insecurity
- Financial issues
- Family problems
- Moving home
Today we will discuss the connection between stress and cancer. To understand this connection in detail we will discuss:
- How does the body respond during stress?
- Can psychological stress cause cancer?
- How can you cope up with stress to prevent cancer development?
How does the body respond during stress?
Our body reacts to stress by liberating stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones increase the levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and speed heart rate. These variations in body assist a person to perform with greater speed and strength to run off a perceived threat.
According to studies the chronic stress can cause urinary problems, fertility issues, digestive problems and weakened immune system. People who suffer it are susceptible to get viral infections and headaches, depression, anxiety and sleep trouble.
Can psychological stress cause cancer?
Cancer develops when a cell gets a number of mutations in genes involved in controlling the cell division, proliferation and programmed cell death. When an adequate amount of genes regulating these roles are hindered, a cancer cell is free to divide persistently and endlessly.
Several studies have shown a relationship between different psychological factors and an elevated risk of developing cancer. If you are living with high stress levels, then there is a higher risk for developing cancer.
Following are the cancer risk factors associated with stress:
- Weakens immune system: It can weaken the immune system. Immune system is responsible for defending the body against infections and diseases including cancer. A weakened immune system plays a role in the development of some types of cancer.
When you are suffering from chronic stress, the defence process performed by the immune system (cell-mediated immunity) becomes less dependable. The chronic stress disturbs the immune system, making the body more prone to infections and uncontrolled growth of mutated cells.
- Causes hormonal changes: It can change the levels of some hormones in the body, which increase the risk of developing cancer.
When a person is suffering from it, the body is flooded with stress-response hormones- cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine that are able to restrain the responses of the immune system to mutated cells.
The problem arises when the body is suffering from chronic stress, which is prolonged, continuous or the acute that is experienced many times in a day. Then your body is continuously being flooded with these hormones.
Another way with which hormones can increase the risk of cancer is here:
Norepinephrine may bind with beta receptors, which exist on the surface of several tumor cells, leading to their proliferation. It is also found that stress hormones may also augment the density and nerve growth at the tumor site.
- Causes unhealthy behaviours: It sometimes causes unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, heavy drinking and smoking that increase the risk of developing cancer.
it is clear that stress increases the chances of developing cancer. Therefore, it is crucial to manage it before it’s too late.
How can you cope up with stress to prevent cancer development?
Stress can be managed by making small changes in lifestyle and sometimes by taking the help of professionals. Following are some of the ways that can help you to manage it:
- Talk to a professional: A psychiatrist can help you by teaching ways to cope up with it.
It may include cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy. They may assist the brain to expose the relationship between your thoughts, behavior and emotions.
Cognitive behavior therapy can offer you the mental tools to cope up with anxieties and worries.
- Practice meditation or yoga: Yoga and meditation are found to have a great role in fighting with it. They provide a break from it and help to enhance the quality of life.
Spending at least two 20-minute per day on meditation or other relaxation techniques can calm your mind.
Meditation and yoga helps your mind to diminish the link between your thoughts and your emotions.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleeping for eight hours each night works as an excellent defense against it. Sound sleep is vital for proper immune function. It also influences your memory, ability and mood. Following a regular sleep schedule, exercising regularly and avoiding TV in bed helps to get sound sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet: Food can play a great role in improving or worsening your mood. It can affect your ability to manage stress.
Consuming processed food, sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates can seriously worsen the symptoms of stress. On the other side, a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein can assist you to manage stressors.
- Take stress seriously: It is crucial to recognize its harmful effects, particularly linked with cancer risks. Its chronic form should never be ignored.
- Stay Connected: The best way to relieve stress is to talk to others. Many people like to talk to family and friends, while others like to go to a therapist.
- Exercise: Many physical exercises can assist to manage the stress and even depression. Staying active is one of the best lifestyle changes that can help to combat it.
Mental health is usually ignored, however it is equally vital as physical health. Therefore try to take care of your mind and body equally. You can prevent various other medical conditions by managing stress and taking care of your mental health. Therefore, try to recognize the symptoms of stress and stay away from the stressors to lead a healthy life.