Evidence is beginning to mount that stress may be the most potent of all carcinogenic factors and that, even more important to our health than what we’re eating may be what’s eating us. An increasingly substantial body of research has established an undeniable link between mental and emotional states and susceptibility to disease. Scientists working in a fast-growing field newly named psycho-neuroimmunology have been finding that emotional stresses affect nervous system function, hormone levels and immunological responses and wreak havoc on the body’s endocrine system.
In studies by Dr. Vernon Riley, a microbiologist at the Seattle Cancer Research Center, only 7 percent of mice protected from environmental stresses developed tumors as compared with 60 percent of mice living in stressful surroundings. Other research has shown, furthermore, that not only stress, but more particularly stress perceived as inevitable and incontrollable may be a key factor in vulnerability to cancer.
In experiments conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Madelon Visintainer, only 27 percent of rats exposed to inescapable electric shocks were able to reject implanted tumors, while 63 percent of rats exposed to escapable shock rejected the tumors. These findings are consistent with other evidence that the immune system is suppressed in those who have no sense of personal option to change the negative conditions in their lives. Feelings of passiveness, victimization, hopelessness, helplessness, and lack of control especially over an extended period of time appear to be major personality traits of the cancer-prone individual.
We all have stress to deal with in our lives; whether we choose to allow stress to become distress may be the crucial issue in wellness. Listed below is a summary of various stress management techniques which You may wish to consider incorporating into your life:
- Change of stress-inducing environment (if not permanently, at least, temporarily)
- Adequate rest
- Exercise (isometrics, yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, rebounding)
- Transcendental meditation, guided imagery, positive visualization
- laughter and play, creative hobby
Fletcher Relaxation System
By Ruth Sackman
Dr. Daisy Fletcher, an osteopathic physician, created this relaxation technique. She was a very innovative doctor who appreciated the value of relieving the body of tension. She retired from practice at the age of 98 still physically fit. She was my doctor until her retirement and I credit her manipulation for many years, as well as other things in my lifestyle, for my health and longevity after struggling for many years with ill health.
Lie flat on the floor on a carpet or mat. Do not put a pillow under your head. Raise your legs and bring a chair close to your upraised legs, then put your legs over the seat of the chair. Close your eyes and relax.
Nerve ends lie between the vertebrae of the spine. By lying flat, the spinal fluid can flow evenly along the spinal canal and bathe the nerve ends. You can remain in this position for a short time or as long as you are comfortable. No time should be set. Your decision to remain in the relaxed mode should be contingent on the way you feel. This should also be done as often as needed to relieve tension.