When I look back now on my 25-year TV career, I realize that what I considered the normal pressures of the job were really serious health stressors. Success for me then looked like always “being on,” feeling stressed, and skipping sleep in pursuit of the next story.
Oh if I could turn back time.
The truth is that I was chronically stressed. Countless studies looking into the connection between stress and cancer will tell you that under chronic stress, your body never gets the clear signal to return to normal and BOOM… the floodgates open for illness.
“Chronic inflammation is like rocket fuel for a tumor.”
My level of cortisol (a key stress hormone) was constantly high. Inflated cortisol causes inflammation, and as my oncologist always says, “Inflammation is a fertilizer for cancer.” UT San Antonio Cancer researcher Dr. Daniel Hughes takes it a step further and says “Chronic inflammation is like rocket fuel for a tumor.”
Stress-induced inflammation will weaken your immune system, which means your body can’t do its job correctly. That includes fighting off cancer. Stress hormones can promote cancer indirectly by weakening the immune system’s anti–tumor defense and by encouraging new tumor-feeding blood vessels to form.
In addition to cortisol’s effects, the stress hormone adrenaline directly supports tumor growth and spread, while norepinephrine stimulates cancer cells directly.
A recent study explains that stress hormones may wake up dormant cancer cells that remain in the body after treatment. In experiments in mice, a stress hormone triggered a chain reaction in immune cells that prompted dormant cancer cells to wake up and form tumors again.
The good news is that it’s not too late to change your lifestyle, lower your stress, and bring down inflammation. Even small changes can make a difference, like adding more plant-based foods to your diet and eating more fermented foods, like miso and yogurt, which contain natural probiotics that reduce inflammation. Add in a regular mindfulness practice to calm your nervous system, and you’re well on your way to reducing inflammation and staying healthy.
You can do this!!