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There’s nothing more stressful than getting diagnosed with a serious disease… especially if that disease comes with as much baggage as cancer.
The second your doctor delivers your test results (or even mentions cancer as a possibility), you switch into fight or flight mode.
You feel like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant when he comes face-to-face with that vicious grizzly bear.
You start pumping out stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Your heart rate speeds up. Your blood pressure rises.
It’s completely natural to respond this way to something as scary as a cancer diagnosis.
But the problem is, if you let yourself dwell in this stressed-out state for too long, you could be putting your life on the line.
That’s because a new study shows that stress hormones may cause certain types of cancer to spread…
Stress hormones cause breast cancer to spread
Researchers at the University of Basel just uncovered a clear link between stress hormones and breast cancer metastasis (the medical term for cancer that spreads from its original location to other parts of the body).
In a mouse study, the University of Basel researchers discovered that the stress hormones cortisol and corticosterone were higher in mice whose breast cancer had spread.
They also found that high levels of stress hormones activated something called glucocorticoid receptors (GR), which then caused cancer cells to colonize more of the body.
Stress hormones increased heterogeneity too. Heterogeneity is when cancer cells are a lot different from one another, making cancer harder to treat. All this made the stressed-out mice less likely to survive their breast cancer.
How to squash stress
This isn’t the first time stress has been linked to cancer…
A 2013 study found that stress triggers a gene that encourages the spread of breast, and possibly other cancers. And numerous other studies show that stress fuels tumor growth.
So, how do you extinguish the stress response when your life is truly on the line? There are two proven approaches to doing just that: exercise and relaxation.
Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers. One study even found that exercising during cancer treatment reduces pain and improves well-being.
In addition to exercise, you should also add a few effective relaxation techniques to your repertoire and practice them daily. You could try:
- A meditation that triggers the relaxation response. The relaxation response is the opposite of stress. The term was coined by Harvard Professor Dr. Herbert Benson in the 1970s when he noticed that relaxation lowered resting heart rate and blood pressure. Below is a video where Dr. Benson teaches you a meditation style that triggers the relaxation response.
- A relaxing yoga routine. A few relaxing yoga postures can take you from stressed to bliss in a matter of minutes. Choose a calming practice rather than a vigorous one. Heck, you can even choose a yoga routine where you don’t move at all, like yoga nidra. Yoga nidra puts you in a state between sleep and wakefulness. It causes your brain to release feel-good hormones like serotonin too. Below is a video that guides you through yoga nidra.
- Some stress-relieving tai chi or qigong. Both ancient Chinese practices combine breathing with physical movement in a way that packs a punch against stress and fatigue. You can start with the most popular qigong routine in China — the Eight Brocade.
Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!
- Stress hormones promote breast cancer metastasis — MedicalXpress
- Glucocorticoids promote breast cancer metastasis — Nature
- What Is Tumor Heterogeneity? — Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Stress fuels cancer spread by triggering master gene — Medical News Today
- Psychological Stress and Cancer — National Cancer Institute
- Chronic stress puts your health at risk — Mayo Clinic
- Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response — Psychology Today
- How Yoga Nidra Can Help You Get More Sleep — Yoga Journal