Scientists know stress is a killer. It increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even sleep disorders. But now, researchers have found that stress poses another threat to health: It may speed the spread of cancer.
In a study at Monash University in Australia, researchers discovered that adrenalin, a chemical the body releases in response to stress, increases the size and number of lymphatic vessels in and around tumors. In addition, it raises the rate of fluid flow through these vessels. The two effects combine to escalate the capacity of lymphatic highways to spread cancerous cells throughout the body.
“So not only do you get new freeways out of the tumor but the speed limit is increased and so the tumor cells can flow out of the tumor much more rapidly,” says coleader Dr. Erica Sloan. The malignant cells can form secondary tumors which makes a cancer prognosis direr.
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Study Design Simulates Chronic Stress
The scientists arrived at their conclusions by restraining mice to put them under extreme chronic stress. This study design simulated the same feelings a person would experience when struggling to cope with difficult circumstances over a long period, such as caring for a relative without adequate resources. The results showed the cancer in the stressed mice spread more than the cancer in the control group of relaxed mice.
Blocking Adrenaline Reduced Cancer Spread
When a person is undergoing tension, the sympathetic nervous system stimulates the release of the hormone adrenaline, which causes the “fight or flight” physiological processes associated with stress such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. After determining that the agent responsible for the cancer spread was adrenaline, the researchers tested the effect of a drug that blocks its action. They chose the beta-blocker propranolol, a drug used for decades to treat high blood pressure. The findings show the blocking of adrenaline prevents the increased development of lymphatic vessels around the tumor, thus reducing the likelihood of the spread of cancer through the lymph nodes.
Intrigued by the results, Dr. Sloan and her team examined data from 1,000 breast cancer patients to see if they were taking a beta-blocker and if it reduced their metastasis risk. They found the women taking these medications showed far less evidence of the spread of cancer from the main tumor to other organs of the body. The study was published in Nature Communications.
Natural Stress Reducers
It is evident that chronic stress is a health villain that must be managed. For people who have not been diagnosed with cancer or high blood pressure, propranolol treatment wouldn’t be recommended to mitigate the effects of stress because, like most drugs, it comes with troubling side effects. However, the natural health field offers an array of options that decrease tension and anxiety. Here are some of the most effective ones.
- First and foremost, walk regularly or engage in some kind of workouts. Exercise in almost any form alleviates stress, as it boosts the brain’s production of “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. Research also shows it reduces anxiety and depression, as well as promotes better sleep.
- If you have chronic stress in your life, you may want to invest in a weekly massage. A study finds even a single session can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Take deep breathes throughout the day. They increase the oxygen supply to the brain, a benefit that facilitates calmness.
- Tea drinkers are undoubtedly familiar with the feelings of relaxation the beverage produces. One study found tea reduces cortisol, so when you feel tension mounting, reach for a cuppa.
- Hang out with your best canine friend. Research suggests dog owners are less stressed.
- Keep lavender in your home or office. This herb is renowned for its ability to foster relaxation. Avoid products made with synthetic lavender, and opt for those made with the essential oils.
Your body and overall health will surely thank you for decreasing the level of stress in your daily life.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.