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Chronic stress and your cancer risk

November 29, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

Chronic stress makes for complex plot lines and great acting. Take Jack Lemmon in 1973's "Save the Tiger" or Anne Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006). Their stress-plagued lives and resulting meltdowns made cinematic history. But off the screen, that kind of relentless tension makes trouble, not careers.

It's long been known that chronic stress can lead to everything from depression and heart disease to gastro problems and dementia. But new research shows how it is intertwined with the development and progression of cancer.

A study published in Cell Reports says that stress causes cellular and receptor changes that allow the stress hormone norepinephrine to suppress your immune system and give cancer a clear shot to take hold and grow. Fortunately, you do have control over your stress response. So, for long-term immune strength and reduced risk of cancer, try these strategies:

Practice forgiveness. Johns Hopkins Medicine says making a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings is a powerful stress-reducer. "As you release the anger, resentment and hostility, you begin to feel empathy," says Dr. Karen Swartz, director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic. Then, you gain health-promoting peace and happiness.

Do aerobic exercise. It immediately reduces levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Aim for 30-60 minutes most days.

Make smart food choices. Tamp down stress-fueling inflammation by eating whole, unprocessed, sugar-free, high-fiber foods.

Improve sleep habits. Have a set bedtime, ditch digital devises for an hour before you hit the hay and make the room dark, cool and quiet.

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D.

and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

King Features Syndicate

Print Headline: Chronic stress and your cancer risk

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