Revisiting Stress as a Major Cause of Cancer

There is a link between physical abuse/trauma, emotional trauma, sex and cancer, which will also be explored in more depth later on in this book. Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, and Sarah Brennenstuhl, MSW, of the University of Toronto have drawn a link between physical abuse as a child and increased incidence of cancer. Physical abuse is accompanied directly with emotional trauma and I would imagine that not unlike a cancer diagnosis, this emotional trauma likely lingers long after the physical body has recovered, if it recovers. Physical trauma and emotional trauma both create stress, which is one of the basic causes of cancer.

Trauma caused by childhood neglect, sexual or domestic abuse and war wreaks havoc in our bodies, says Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score. He explains how trauma and its resulting stress harms us through physiological changes to body and brain, and that those harms can persist throughout life. Excess stress can predispose us to everything from diabetes to heart disease and even cancer.

The long-term release of stress hormones can also induce DNA damage and affect DNA repair, said Dr. Melanie Flint, a senior lecturer in immunopharmacology at the University of Brighton.

There is "growing evidence that chronic stress can affect the cancer risk and progression through immune dysregulation," said Dr. Elisa Bandera, a professor and chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Health Outcomes at the Rutgers Cancer Institute.

This is a highly recommended inspirational TED talk about exercise and staying fit.