If I were to tell you that your thinking habits can create or prevent not only cancer, but a host of other diseases, you would probably disregard it as new age mumbo jumbo. But there is a great deal of science behind thinking and disease prevention. Neurologists and geneticists around the world are beginning to unlock the keys to how our brains work in preventing and causing diseases that plague mankind. Many of their discoveries have led them to the conclusion that habitual negative thinking leads to long-term stress which is very bad for our health, while habitual positive thinking reduces stress and is very good for our health.
Stress is created by the outside world. Short-term stress is, in fact, critical to our very survival as a species. When we feel stress, the hypothalamus goes to work releasing certain hormones and neurochemicals that produce a fight or flight reaction to dangers from the outside world picked up by our senses. This is old brain neurology at work. The hypothalamus resides in the limbic system, the second oldest part of our brain. Its old world purpose is to instantly turn on a series of certain bodily processes that give us the ability to confront or escape old world dangers. Lions, tigers and bears and many other immediate, short-term old world threats caused an evolution in our neural physiology that helped us survive as a species. These dangers created short-term stress which eventually subsided as soon as the danger passed.
But we don’t live in the old world any longer. For the most part, the dangers that were commonplace in the old world no longer plague our species. Our environment has changed. But not our brains. We live in a new world dominated by old world neural physiology. And that is the problem. The threat of job loss, an inability to pay bills, relationship problems and a whole host of other new world dangers have replaced lions and tigers and bears. We now live in a society where most of the outside world dangers are not life threatening. But your brain, nonetheless, reacts to these new age dangers as if it were living in the old world. Our old brains, the limbic system, creates the same release of hormones by the hypothalamus when threatened by a job loss as it would if threatened by a lion, tiger or bear.
The problem is that our new world outside dangers are not short-term; they are regularly recurring dangers that can last for weeks, months, years or even a lifetime. Long-term poverty creates long-term stress and, for many, poverty lasts an entire lifetime and often spans generations. Simply put, poverty is unhealthy.
When we feel stress, there is a domino effect of physiology that takes place inside our bodies. When we think negative thoughts that create stress the hypothalamus increases the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones make the heart beat faster and prepare the body for fight or flight. If the stress lingers, a gene on chromosome 10, called CYP17, is activated. This gene goes to work to convert cholesterol to cortisol. Cortisol is used in virtually every part of the body and it’s purpose is to integrate the body and the mind. The body and mind then work in harmony to escape the outside world danger responsible for the stress. One of cortisol’s side effects, unfortunately, is that it depresses the immune system by reducing the production of lymphocytes – white blood cells. The gene CYP17 also turns on another gene called TCF, which suppresses the the creation of a protein called interleukin 2. Interleukin 2’s purpose is to put white blood cells on high alert. White blood cells are our main defense against viruses, diseases, germs and any parasites that infect the body. Long-term stress, therefore, makes us more susceptible to disease.
Rich Thinking, or making a daily habit of being upbeat, happy and optimistic, therefore, is not new age mumbo jumbo. Rich Thinking helps reduce long-term stress and allows your body to function optimally in fending off disease. So when I say Rich Thinking can prevent cancer, now you know why.