Feature Articles

The Link Between Heart Disease, Cancer and Your Emotions

Research in the field of mind/body medicine conducted by scientists such as Dr. Hans Eysenck shows that approximately 99 percent of the people who die of cancer (as well as heart disease) suffer from chronic, serious depression, anger or a combination of both emotions.

According to famed holistic physician Dr. C. Norman Shealy, the most prevalent ongoing emotion leading up to cancer is depression, while chronic anger is the most likely emotion to cause heart disease and high blood pressure. These findings parallel those of Stanford University scientists Dr. Bruce Lipton, whose research shows that chronic stress is a primary cause of more than 95 percent of all types of disease conditions. The bottom line of all this research is that effectively preventing and recovering from cancer requires healing long-standing unresolved emotional issues.

Emotional Characteristics Common to Heart Disease Patients
It's long been known that there is a higher risk for developing heart disease in people who are known as "Type A" personalities. People who fit this psychological profile tend to be doers and achievers who "grab life with both hands." Such people often find it difficult to relax, however. As a result, they typically are prone to stress and bothered by daily occurrences that, for most other people, would seem inconsequential and not worth worrying about.

In addition, Type A people are usually judgmental, impatient, and have quick tempers. Although they do a good job of hiding it, they can also be prone to anxiety over the projects they are involved in and whether or not they will result in their desired outcomes.

Anger, anxiety, impatience, and other such emotions and psychological characteristics are not exclusive traits of Type A personalities, of course. And all of them have been found to be common among people with heart disease, especially anger and anxiety. If you find that you are prone to such emotions on a regular basis, it might be wise for you to seek out help so that you can do a better job of managing and minimizing them.

Emotional Characteristics Common to Cancer Patients
In addition to depression and chronic stress, the most common emotional characteristics of cancer patients are anxiety, fear, grief, hopelessness, indecisiveness, loneliness, and low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. Many cancer patients also live isolated lives and lack meaningful personal relationships. Other emotional issues that can act as co-factors in the cancer process include bigotry, hostility, resentment, and selfishness. Limited and erroneous beliefs can also play a significant role in how patients respond to their cancer treatments. For example, many people, upon being diagnosed with cancer, automatically assume the worst, even when there is no reason to do so. As a result, they can unconsciously sabotage their ability to recover even when they receive the most appropriate and effective types of cancer treatment.

Chronic, unresolved emotions have also been shown to significantly affect the immune system by lowering the immune response. This is of utmost importance when it comes to preventing and treating cancer since a healthy immune system is essential in both cases. Therefore, it is vitally important that all of us, whether or not we have cancer, take care to properly manage and express our emotions and to do all that is necessary to heal and recover from any unexpected shocks or traumas we may have sustained.

Are Your Emotions Making You Sick?
The following checklist of questions can help you to determine if you at risk for developing cancer, as well as various other illnesses, due to unresolved and improperly expressed emotions. Answer each question truthfully. The more Yes answers you give, the more likely it is that you need to start addressing your emotions and beliefs in order to stop them from compromising your health.

Have you endured an unexpected shock or trauma within the last 3 years (examples: death of a loved one, divorce, break up of a relationship, loss of your job, etc)?
  • Do you regularly experience bouts of sadness or grief?
  • Do you regularly experience bouts of anxiety or depression?
  • Are you experiencing lingering feelings of anger or resentment towards anyone or anything?
  • Do you suffer from low self-esteem?
  • Do you lack meaningful relationships in your life?
  • Do you spend much of your personal time by yourself?
  • Do you feel lonely?
  • Are you pessimistic by nature?
  • Do you harbor lingering regrets over experiences from your past?
  • Do you feel as if you are cut off from support from others and have to do everything on your own?
  • Are you prone to compromise so as not to hurt others' feelings even when doing so means giving up on your own desires and dreams?
  • Do you believe that life is a struggle filled with hardships that only a few, lucky or privileged people ever escape?
  • Are you pessimistic about the future and the way things are going in the world?
  • Are you an "all work and no play" type of person?

Healing your mind and emotions requires a committed effort on your part, and may also require, at least initially, working with a trained counselor or health care practitioner trained in the field of mind/body medicine. If you feel that you require such assistance based on your responses to the above question, don't wait to seek it out.

Professional Care
The following professional care therapies are highly effective treatments for dealing with chronic emotional conditions: Bach flower remedies, biofeedback therapy, breathwork, energy psychology, guided imagery and visualization, hypnotherapy, journaling, meditation, and other forms of mind/body medicine.

Professional counseling can also be helpful, as can certain other types of "talk therapy," such as cognitive therapy. However, unless your emotional problems are severe and causing you to feel like a threat to yourself or others, try to avoid counselors and psychiatrists who focus on treating emotional issues with drugs—not only does this approach fail to address the deeper underlying issues that are causing your emotional problems, it is also highly toxic and can cause a host of serious side effects, including liver and kidney damage, impaired brain functioning, and even violent acts, including suicide.

Note: In many cases of mental and emotional difficulty, physical factors such as food allergies, poor diet, and nutritional deficiencies can also play a significant role. These and other physical factors should always be screened for whenever emotional or mental difficulties become chronic, as well as for all cases of heart disease and cancer.

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