Could Stress Cause Cancer?

by Aidan Bertie
(Boston, MA, USA)

Stress has been blamed for a number of health conditions. Irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux come to mind, as do ulcers. And we all know stress can trigger temporary bouts of anxiety and depression. But here’s a condition that you’ve probably never associated with stress: prostate cancer.

What’s led to this discovery? Past research has revealed something startling about prostate cancer progression: tumors tend to grow and multiply along nerve fibers. Obviously there is some link between the spread of cancer and the nervous system. So far, no one has understood the nature of this link. Until now, that is.

Researchers think that both nervous response and stress help trigger the onset of prostate cancer and its subsequent spread to other locations.

Your nervous system is responsible for orchestrating all of the automatic functions in your body such as your heart beat and your digestion. It’s generally divided into two branches: the parasympathetic nervous system (PSN) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). In a nutshell, the PSN helps you to rest, stay calm, and use minimal energy. Its polar opposite, the SNS, kicks in a burst of energy to get you to respond to stress and perceived threats. It is the SNS that is linked to prostate cancer in its earliest stages and the PSN that gets involved when the condition has progressed.

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