Everyone feels stressed at some point in their lives. Small levels of stress can be positive, making us more alert and improving our performance. However, long periods of stress can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It can also contribute to physical health problems such as high blood pressure and stomach ulcers. There have been some studies that validate stress as a link to cancer.
An article in the New York Times suggests that people who feel unable to escape stress or cope with it may be more likely to develop cancer or other diseases because the immune system is weakened by the state of mind. Support from an August 5th issue of the Journal of Science showed rats suffered inescapable stress in the form of mild electrical shock they could not shut off, which caused them to develop weak immune systems. Weak immune systems increase risk for disease. Rats that were given the option to turn off the electrical shock had no signs of weakened immune systems.
There are significant findings that stress has been linked to cancer, however, some argue that there is a lack of evidence and the studies that have been done have flawed designs. Stress does not directly cause cancer, but the debate here is really whether stress is linked to cancer. Stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, overeating, and heavy drinking. These behaviors can lead to cancer so in this way, stress could indirectly increase your cancer risk. Stressful events can also alter the levels of hormones in the body and can weaken the immune system causing vulnerability to diseases such as cancer.
A stress management technique that can be most effective is exercise. The value of exercise in decreasing stress is related to several factors. These factors include decreases in muscle tension, lessens feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, aggression, anger, hostility, and insomnia. These are just a few of the many benefits of exercise in relation to stress. Exercise is important in coping with stress and strengthening the immune system. It is also important in allowing one to relax and dissipate the stress accumulated throughout the day whether it is work, school, or family problems that escalate stress levels. Vigorous aerobic exercise lasting 30 minutes or longer contributes to the release of endorphins from the pituitary gland in the brain. Endorphins are thought to induce feelings of euphoria and natural well-being.