A New Look at Stress and Cancer.

stress and cancer

Stress and Cancer: A new review in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience reports a novel way to look at stress, trauma, and the body-mind therapies.  The author says psychological stress alone will not cause cancer but it can interfere with the immune systems response to cancer cells, and may increase the potential for metastasis, and cause neurochemical imbalances that may impact the survival of cancer patients.  Thus, the concept of stress may not be appropriate in the medical or scientific content and the concept of bodymind may be more accurate when treating trauma in patients with cancer. He says “There are a number of non-mainstream educational and therapeutic practices known as “bodymind” practices which appear to be effective in dealing with stress and trauma, but how they actually work is not well known. We need a better way of thinking about what actually is happening in the nervous system when a person faces various forms of challenge and how the stress is resolved.”  The authors believe that when considering stress, in addition to proposing the use of mechanisms of action of bodymind therapeutics and educational systems as treatment, the role of the subcortical (unconscious or semi-conscious) levels of the mind in the stress response should be empasized. They continue “We show how it is possible to alter these subcortical patterns by focusing on the components of the Preparatory Set: posture and muscle tension, breathing, body sensation, emotion, attention, and expectations.,”   The concept of Preparatory Set explains stress and trauma and offers a scientific explaination for the effectiveness of the bodymind therapes like Tai Chii, Yoga, the alexander Technique, and bodyoriented psychotherapies.  The authors make suggestions for research to test their hypothesis: in particular, the tendency of the components of the Preparatory Set to influence each other

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