Meditation Can Prevent Cancer

MEDITATION, CORTISOL, AND CANCER

There are many causes of cancer and many defenses as well. Cancer starts at the cellular level, and involves a series of mutations to the DNA, and there are a variety of sophisticated ribbonmechanisms within the body that scout for these and clean them up. If the cells are under chronic stress, this protective system is greatly inhibited. Other components of the body’s response actually make cancer more likely. The bottom line is: stress causes cancer.

The stress system in the body is ‘designed’ to maximize a successful outcome to a life threatening ‘fight or flight’ situation. Mental acuity is raised, insulin is raised, the repair and prevention parts of the immunes system are shut down, but the inflammation parts are ramped up. A good portion of this activity is mediated by cortisol, meaning that the various processes that got altered in preparation for the life threatening event took their cue from the cortisol level.

The ‘designer’, however, didn’t think the stress response would last very long. You would win or lose the ‘fight or flight’. Then things would return to normal or not at all.

Cortisol is a hair trigger hormone. Almost anything will run it up. Everyone has experienced this when something startling occurs. Most people can literally feel it. Usually cortisol drops back down almost as quickly.

For many, perhaps a majority, our Modern World is a source of continuing and thus chronic stress. Not as intense as our hunter-gatherer forbearers had to deal with, but chronic – 24/7. This could be work related, a difficult partner, child, or family relation, financial worries, anything. A significant percentage of the population is taking some sort of anxiety medicine.

Quantitative Medicine measures stress by measuring cortisol. A ‘good’ number would be under 10 µg/ml. A ‘stress-ball’ might have a level of 25 or higher. Perhaps you know your number.

It is very important to get that cortisol number down. A high number greatly increases your odds of getting cancer, plus it’s a tough life. There are three general ways one might go about reducing stress:

Remove the stressor. This is not always easy. You can’t fire your boss or divorce a troublesome child. However, knowing the importance of stress reduction, it might be possible to obtain some cooperation from the appropriate persons.

  • This works and doesn’t take long. In many cases, the stress is amplified greatly by obsessive thinking and other such mental entrapments. Meditation tends to derail these. We will get to how well it works in terms of health benefits in a second.
  • If the above two can’t get the cortisol level down, discuss anxiety reducing medication with your doctor. It is that important to health, far more important than most doctors realize.

MEDITATION. There must be a thousand ways to do this. Many people have the image of bald Buddhist monks with saffron robes and incense, etc. No need to go there. Meditation simply means turning off the continual brain-chatter that goes on every waking moment, and directing this conscious part of your brain to think of – ideally – nothing, but otherwise, something simple, like your own breathing, or a repeated sound.

At first this is surprisingly hard to do, but it is quickly learned and needn’t take up more that 10 minutes a day. There will be a step-by-step guide in a future post.

Most research examines meditation for patients that already have cancer – would it aid recovery? Generally it does, but a much stronger result came from an experiment focused on prevention. In the study, a group of elderly people with high blood pressure was divided in two. Half were led through a meditation and stress reduction program, and the other half were left alone. The stress reducers had 23% lower mortality, a 30% reduction in cardiovascular mortality, and a whopping 50% reduction in cancer mortality. There was no medication associated with this. This is a huge result. There is almost nothing that will cause reductions like these. You can read the study here. (If I needed convincing, this study would have done it!)

Here we have stress reduction reducing heart disease mortality 30% and cancer 50%. A program involving the right kind of exercise will reduce heart disease mortality over 50% and cancer over 35%. Combine these and you are a on your way to a long healthy life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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