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Does Stress Cause Cancer?

  • 15th October 2012 |
  • Author: Iris
Waterfront park

Healthy Green Spaces Relieve Stress

At nearly 600,000 new cases each year, breast cancer is an alarmingly common and serious health concern for women worldwide. In North America, breast cancer accounts for over one quarter of all female cancers. No one would argue that having breast cancer is stressful. As a matter of fact, there are some who will argue that stress can cause cancer. According to the American Psychology Association, it’s sometimes difficult to ascertain what comes first … the physical illness or the stress. However, there have not been any studies done that can definitively state that stress causes cancer.

Stress and the Immune System

Being sick does create stress in your life, for sure. When we’re stressed out, our immune system is compromised. Our immune system is our body’s protective network that fights off the effects of bacteria, viruses, free-radicals and even cancer cells. To keep our mind and body tuned and healthy to prevent disease and illness, we need to eat the right foods so that we have a healthy and balanced diet that includes the proper nutrients and sufficient antioxidants to help protect and maintain a healthy immune system.

We also need to keep stress to a minimum if we want to strengthen our immune system. Getting in touch with nature is a very good and effective way to lower the level of stress in our lives. Recent studies have confirmed that people recover faster from painful incidents and stressful situations when they are exposed to natural environments. Being able to walk around in a natural environment where there are trees, water, greenery, flowers, the sky and wind on your face has a noted positive effect on mood and stress levels.

Social Connections Outdoors

With October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are a lot of events taking place outdoors.   The Komen Race for the Cure is a major activity that would be a perfect stress-reliever. You can participate in the race, whether running or walking, and connect socially with a group of people who have a common story and interest. Coming together as a group with a common interest and in a supportive way is a great way to lift the spirits, increase self-esteem and decrease stress.

Exposure to nature in a green space, park setting or natural environment does wonders for the mind and the body. Whether you’re sitting on a park bench listening to the birds chirp, reflecting upon a body of water, taking a hike in the woods, meditating under a shaded tree, or walking alone or with a group of others, there’s nothing like nature’s restorative power!

Exercising Outdoors

This week, set aside a 15 – 30 minute session with nature to de-stress through exercising outdoors. Try to increase the length of those sessions every week until you are spending about 60 minutes outside in a pleasant, calming green space or environment. Outdoor activities and exercise can help alleviate symptoms of Alzheimers, dementia, depression and stress, and improve cognitive function in those recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Evidence is growing that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45-60 minutes of physical exercise 5 or more days a week.

You can protect and maintain a healthy immune system by keeping stress levels to a minimum. Keep the mind and body tuned and healthy to prevent disease and illness. There is no clear proof that stress and anxiety can increase breast cancer risk. However, anything you can do to reduce your stress and to strengthen the immune system will enhance your recovery and ability to effectively fight breast cancer.

Spend as much time as possible in beautiful green spaces. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature and work toward getting fit and well through exercise..

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