In July 2016, Dr. Jennie Connor, physician and chair in Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Otago Medical School in Dunedin, New Zealand, released the study Alcohol Consumption as a Cause of Cancer.
Oncology massage is simply a massage in the context of someone going through cancer treatment. The most common cancer treatments are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Because these treatments often leave “injured areas” such as surgical incisions, radiation burns and general system fatigue, we have to know how to work with these conditions, to be able to give a good massage without hurting them. Studies have also shown that individuals that receive massage require less anti-nausea and pain reducing medication.
One of our favourite games as kids is now one of the most powerful determinants of sickness or health – the cops and robbers in our intestinal tract – better known as “good bacteria” or “bad bacteria”. Over the last ten years, the function of our “gut microbiome”, is finally gaining the research and respect that it so deserves.
Mushrooms seem to be almost magical in promoting health benefits. From fighting respiratory infections to cancer, this assortment of small fungi are gigantic warriors.
There is a lot of research, clinical data and statistics related to cancer – types, causes, and treatments – available to anyone interested in looking them up. There are, of course, the usual suspects /causes of cancer (more on that later). But there could be a case made out to look beyond the obvious. Scratch deeply and look below the surface. There is another omnipresent trigger we lug around and don’t give this Machiavellian it’s due. It coexists as both cause and effect, feeds off us, is often suppressed, and is usually the last to be addressed, if at all.
‘Unaddressed and unresolved emotions’.
The source of these could be singular, or more likely, multiple. Cracking or crumbling relationships, pressures of work (often tied up with a sense of ‘worth’ & ‘success’), irritants at home (from the mundane to the serious), overwhelming sense of responsibilities as a spouse, parent, child, maintaining a lifestyle, etc. come to mind easily. This tangle slowly and silently claws away at body, mind and soul. Some may immediately label it ‘Stress’. But this emotional web can manifest in other physio-psychological avatars too. It is silent and deadly. It attacks all systems- skeletal, muscular, nervous, circulatory, etc. All organ systems on one hand, and cognitive and emotional on the other, interfering with and impairing our quality of living and coping abilities. While one needs to clearly distinguish and recognize medical reasons for what they are, the truth is, this silent trigger is omnipotent. Abstract though it may seem, emotions wield the power to mess with our tangible systems. They have the capability of producing unwanted, negative, and damaging results in the human body. Sometimes, drastically so.
SHOULD WE BE LOOKING MORE SERIOUSLY AT OUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH IN OUR BATTLE AGAINST CANCER?
A long, relaxed conversation with a cancer survivor friend brought this aspect to the fore yet again. He has overcome cancer twice and tried all treatments – mainstream and alternate, including adopting a complete lifestyle change which most of us can only aspire to. But there remains an unaddressed issue. After years spent on this journey of cancer, getting on and off track, he calmly mentioned this point in relation to his experience of it. It was interesting to hear him analyze his own life experiences. Aware of what’s impacting him (acknowledging the source of his emotional drain), he recognizes the need let it go, and admits that he hasn’t been able to yet. Driven by his emotional moorings, he hasn’t been able to sever this source of recurring negativity in his life despite nudging by family, friends, healers and a few doctors.
He further went on to calmly say that till such time as he lets go, he is not fighting the root causes of cancer completely. (I say ’causes’ so as not to make an oversimplified case of cancer triggers, especially in relation to emotional health, nor is it my intention to present this as a thought in conflict with medical advice or challenge it.) He intends to seriously weigh the worthiness of continuing with this emotional baggage and its impact on his body.
DOES THIS MATTER?
He isn’t the first person – or the last – to have mentioned this connection. There is something more than pure abstraction at play here. And it’s worth acknowledging the elephant in the room. We are, after all, feeding it and it is rolling its weight all over us. Emotions impact us and negative emotions more so. Our bodies respond in myriad ways trying to combat it. Labored breathing, racing/irregular heart beat (cardiovascular), tight muscles (muscular), tingling in fingers/toes (neural), aches and pains (skeletal and muscular), compromised digestion, high/low blood pressure (other body systems)… these are just some common perceptible symptoms and responses to our altered emotional states. We have all experienced them to varying degrees and at different points in our lives. Not to mention what happens to our (emotional) responses and thought process.
It becomes a cause of concern when this altered state continues for a longer period of time. The body appears to adapt and these symptoms become silent and internal in nature. The impact, meanwhile, continues on a wider, cellular level, and various manifestations of this silent aggressor may emerge over a period of time, including possibly, as cancer.
SHOULD WE EMPOWER OURSELVES BETTER?
Does it mean all cancers are somehow the result of negative emotions or negative emotions will always lead to cancer? There is no definite, categorical ‘Yes’ as an answer. But, it could prove helpful investigating and addressing how our underlying emotive states may be leaving us exposed to greater possibility of serious health conditions, including cancer, along with all other clinical causes. As a precautionary tool, I reckon paying attention to emotional health plays a rather important role. We know that a healthy and fit lifestyle has so many advantages in serving as prevention for many health conditions. ‘Fitness’ needs to encompass emotional and mental health (strength and fortitude) too, by constantly sieving out the negative and enhancing the positive. It requires acknowledgement and working upon, with a conscious approach. As a cancer coping mechanism, focusing on positive emotional health and reducing negative (draining/sapping/unhappy/stressful/fearful) emotions plays a powerful role.
Emotions have the power to alter the human state at the conscious and subconscious levels. They can be an ally or a foe in our battle against ill health. They have the ability to align internal systems/processes to either facilitate or hinder external efforts.
So while one may refrain from an outright ‘yes’ to the question raised above, one cannot say an outright ‘no’ either. As science discovers deeper working of the human ecosystem, it is increasingly revealing the intertwining of our emotive state with our physical one.
Humans are emotional beings.
We cannot challenge it nor ignore the fabric that differentiates us. When one goes against the basic grain it creates friction. Prioritizing striving for a residual state of positive emotional health needs a deliberate plan and push. It is not easy. But neither is cancer nor its treatment. Using different techniques to spot and train our emotions, create emotional alchemy, makes sense now more than ever before, with different types of cancers spiraling and affecting all age groups, sometimes with the known triggers missing.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” –C. G. Jung
Originally printed on bodyinmotion.in. Reprinted with permission.
Vani Pahwa is a Functional Fitness specialist with over fifteen years of experience, and cutting-edge certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally recognized fitness institutes. She is also a Cancer Exercise Specialist (perhaps one of the first in the country). Sought after for her multi-disciplinary fitness modules and expertise, Vani has conducted fitness workshops for leading corporate houses, conditioning and training camps for various sports communities, training programs for coaches, personal training programs for CEOs of multi-nationals, athletes, junior and senior sports professionals among others. Her combination of specialties, client profile and range, and extensive work experience makes her unique in the country. She is the founder of Body in Motion.
** If interested in further research on the topic you may read up related links including:
The rising rate of prostate cancer necessitates developing better methods to prevent and treat prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men, according to the American Cancer Society. The country’s 3.3 million prostate cancer survivors account for 21 percent of all cancer survivors.
There are many reasons why a cancer patient should stay as active as possible through cancer treatment and recovery. I will begin by pointing out a few studies that show how exercise can benefit cancer patients. These studies demonstrate how exercise can reduce certain side effects from treatment, increase energy, decrease stress, and improve quality of life. In the last article of this series, I will suggest ways to develop an exercise program that is based on an individual’s needs and is safe and effective.
There is evidence to support the use of exercise in prostate treatment. Exercise plays a role in the all-around improved physical and mental health and therefore should be considered in the treatment plan. We know that exercise can decrease recurrence for some cancers and the role it plays in weight control, which is correlated with some cancers. For prostate cancer specifically, data indicates that obesity increases the aggressiveness of prostate cancer, and thus mortality. Men receiving androgen deprivation therapy are at higher risk for depression. Exercise reduces depression.
Studies do have their limitations. Some use self-reported data about lifestyle and exercise. Moreover, there may be a low number of minority participants who may often have higher cancer rates. The following are a few of the published studies, which confirm that exercise should be included in the treatment plan for prostate cancer patients.
Studies have suggested that patients with high levels of physical activity had a lower rate of disease progression and also reduced mortality from prostate cancer. Ying Wang, PhD, a senior epidemiologist in the Epidemiology Research Program at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on 10,067 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer between 1992 and 2011. Men with prostate cancer, which hasn’t spread may have longer survival the more they exercise. A study demonstrated that men who were the most physically active had a 34% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer when compared with men who were the least physically active. Men who either maintained or increased their exercise level also benefited. Prostate cancer patients who kept up a moderate to high level of physical activity also had better survival prognoses compared with their more sedentary counterparts. Those men who were more active before diagnosis were more likely to have lower-risk cancer tumors and a history of prostate screenings. They were also leaner, more likely to be nonsmokers and vitamin users and they ate more fish. Wang concludes, “Our results support evidence that prostate cancer survivors should adhere to physical activity guidelines, and suggest that physicians should consider promoting a physically active lifestyle to their prostate cancer patients.”
Androgen Deprivation Therapy leads to numerous side effects, which can be decreased through exercise. Side effects of ADT include loss of muscle, increase in fat mass and osteoporosis. Risk for diabetes and heart disease also increases. Brian Focht, reported at the November AICR convention, that functional ability increased dramatically as did quality of life for those that exercise, and side effects of ADT were reversed.
Exercise can decrease blood sugar levels, which lower insulin levels and also helps to lower inflammation. There does appear to be a positive association between insulin levels, inflammation and prostate cancer risk.
The evidence for physical activity in reducing anxiety and depression, while increasing general-well being is fairly substantial. Improving well-being can have a dramatic beneficial effect on sexual function. Consistent exercise will also help to lower insulin, blood sugar, and improve overall cardiovascular health, all of which have positive impact on erectile dysfunction and libido.
In 2016, Rider and Wilson studied the connection between ejaculation and prostate cancer, which was published in European Urology. Men that reported higher ejaculatory frequency were less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. This study showed a beneficial role of frequent ejaculation particularly for low-risk disease.
Some doctors have traditionally told patients to rest during this time but Favil Singh’s research confirms the importance of getting fit prior to surgery. Singh’s research published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies has shown that a regular dose of physical activity prior to surgery helps the recovery process. This reduces time in the hospital.
Singh stated “This is the first time we’ve been able to demonstrate the benefits of ‘pre-habilitation’ for prostate cancer patients. It is safe, side effect-free and can be done while undergoing chemo or radiotherapy. Just two sessions a week of resistance and exercise training for six weeks can make a difference to recovery.”
Often, there is a waiting period in between diagnosis and surgery. If fitness level can be improved before surgery the patient, then the patient goes into the surgery stronger and may have a better recovery.
The American Cancer Society and American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This advice is a good goal for those who have been inactive. Unfortunately, in my view this is insufficient for a significant number of cancer patients. Having worked with cancer patients for over 20 years, I believe that this recommendation needs to be changed. It is impossible to include aerobic exercise, strength training, and other exercise methods in the current recommended time frame.
Carol J. Michaels is the founder and creator of Recovery Fitness® LLC, located in Short Hills, New Jersey. Her programs are designed to help cancer survivors in recovery through exercise programs. Carol, an award winning fitness and exercise specialist, has over 17 years of experience as a fitness professional and as a cancer exercise specialist. Visit her website, carolmichaelsfitness.com
Steven C. Moore PhD, et al, Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; 176(6): 816-825.
Lynch B.M., Dunstan D.W., Vallance J.K., Owen N. Don’t take cancer sitting down: A new survivorship research agenda. Cancer. 2013, Jun 1; 119(11): 1928-35 Medicine
Kristina H. Karvinen, Kerry S. Courneya, Scott North and Peter Venner, Associations between Exercise and Quality of Life in Bladder Cancer Survivors: A Population-Based Study, Cancer Epidemiology and Biomarkers Prevention May 2007, 10.1158/1055-9965
Gopalakrishna et al, Lifestyle factors and health-related quality of life in bladder cancer survivors: a systematic review. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 2016 (5): 874-82
Vallance, J., Spark, L., & Eakin, E.. Exercise behavior, motivation, and maintenance among cancer survivors. In Exercise, Energy Balance, and Cancer (2013) (pp. 215-231). Springer
Cannioto et al., The association of lifetime physical inactivity with bladder and renal cancer risk: A hospital-based case-control analysis, Cancer Epidemiology, Volume 49 August 2017
Cramp F, Byron-Daniel J. Exercise for the management of cancer-related fatigue in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; 14(11): CD006145.
Booth FW, et al., Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases. Compr Physiol. 2012 Apr; 2(2): 1143-211.
Stephanie Cash et al, Recreational physical activity and risk of papillary thyroid cancer among women in the California Teachers Study. Cancer Epidemiology, Feb 2013,37(1): 46-53
Hwang, Yunji MS; Lee, Kyu Eun MD, PhD; Park, Young Joo MD, PhD; et al, Annual Average Changes in Adult Obesity as a Risk Factor for Papillary Thyroid Cancer: A Large-Scale Case-Control Study, Medicine, March 2016, Mar; 95(9): e2893
Cao Y, Ma J. Body mass index, prostate cancer-specific mortality, and biochemical recurrence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011; 4: 486-501.
Galvao, et al. Combined resistance and aerobic exercise program reverses muscle loss in men undergoing androgen suppression therapy for prostate cancer without bone metastases: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Jan 10; 28(2): 340-7.
Galvao, et al. Exercise can prevent and even reverse adverse effects of androgen suppression treatment in men with prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2007; 10(4):340-6.
Winters-Stone KM, et al. Resistance training reduces disability in prostate cancer survivors on androgen deprivation therapy: evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Jan; 96(1): 7-14.
Giovannucci EL, Liu Y, Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of physical activity and incident and fatal prostate cancer. Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165: 1005-1010.
Storer TW, Miciek R, Travison TG. Muscle function, physical performance and body composition changes in men with prostate cancer undergoing androgen deprivation therapy. Asian J Androl. 2012, Mar; 14(2): 204-21.
Focht, Brian C.; Lucas, Alexander R.; Grainger, Elizabeth; Simpson, Christina; Fairman, Ciaran M.; Thomas-Ahner, Jennifer; Clinton, Steven K., Effects of a Combined Exercise and Dietary Intervention on Mobility Performance in Prostate Cancer, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. May 2016:48(5S): 515.
Rider J, Wilson K.et al. Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow up, European Urology. December 2016, volume 70, issue 6
Singh F. et al. Feasibility of Presurgical Exercise in Men With Prostate Cancer Undergoing Prostatectomy, Integrative Cancer Therapies (2016). DOI: 10.1177/1534735416666373
Wang et al, Recreational Physical Activity in Relation to Prostate Cancer–specific Mortality Among Men with Nonmetastatic Prostate Cancer. European Urology July 2017 online bit.ly/2tXMK6Y
I am a 12 year breast cancer survivor, and experienced what cancer patients go through, not just from theory, but from living it. I’m going to talk about the role that Pilates had in my rehab and why I consider essential for cancer patients and survivors.
After surgery and treatment, most cancer patients are left with lack of flexibility and range of motion, and poor posture because of the scar tissue. Most experience fatigue from chemo and radiation or just stress of the circumstances. Many go through hormonal treatment which reduces the muscle mass, increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture, bone pain, fatigue, mood swings and lack of stamina and stress.
Breathing is an essential part of Pilates. It helps with stress and stamina, reduces fatigue, opens the lungs and helps with mood swings. When we are paying attention to our breathing, we clear thoughts and allow the oxygen and energy flow through our bodies.
Awareness is a principle that helps us increase the consciousness of our body and the parts that are in disharmony and need to be repaired, isolating them from other parts to progressively make them stronger and healthier. Mind –Body connection
Control is another principle helps coordinate the body parts and move them with the correct alignment, avoiding jerky movements used in general workouts (especially using the Core which we call the powerhouse) and increasing BALANCE that is so affected in cancer patients.
Flexibility and range of motion are key in the rehabilitation for mobility and functionality of the limbs or part of the body affected so we start testing the patient range of motion without any resistance at first.
Pilates machines have springs that allow switching among different resistance according to the patient’s condition avoiding injuries and pain,
Allowing the patient to get FLEXIBLE then STRONGER and then MANAGE THEIR OWN BODY improving posture, Functionality, mobility, self-image and self-confidence.
Graciela Perez is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Personal Trainer, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Aquatic Specialist, and a Cancer Exercise Training Institute Cancer Exercise Specialist. She’s been helping people reaching their health and fitness goals since 2003.
It’s been said: “If all the benefits of exercise could be placed in a single pill, it would be the most widely prescribed medication in the world.” Scientific evidence continues to mount supporting the numerous medicinal benefits of exercise. In fact, there’s hardly a disease that I can think of that exercise won’t help in one way or another, be it prevention, treatment, or even cure in some instances.
Exercise is important for everyone even individuals who have cancer. It is important to understand your body and know what you can do. An Exercise Specialist can help you to figure out an exercise plan that works for you. Everyone is unique and therefore needs an individualized exercise program.
It is important to notify your Exercise Specialist when you have treatments. The exercise program may need to be modified for a few days after treatment. Modification is important to help preserve energy and wellbeing. You may need to do two sets of an exercise instead of three for a training session or two. Exercise can help you to stay strong and relieve stress even if you are only able to do twenty minutes every other day.
There are also some precautions to take. While exercising, you may want to wear gloves. Wearing gloves helps you to keep your hands clean during workouts. This is important because the immune system is already weakened. Wiping equipment before use will also help you to be as clean as possible. It is important to wipe mats and dumbbells as well.
Start your exercise program slowly and progress when you are ready. Fitness is an individual journey and everyone starts at a different place. It is important to not compare yourself to others and keep focused on your goals. Your exercise prescription will depend on which phase of cancer you are in.
There are many ways that exercise can benefit individuals during treatment such as: maintaining your physical capabilities, lessen nausea, maintaining independence, improve quality of life, control weight, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve self-esteem.
When you are recovering from treatment you may notice that the side effects linger. Your Exercise Specialist will adjust your program according to how you feel. Eventually, you will be able to progress and feel less fatigued. It is important, however, to continue to be active after treatments have been discontinued. Research shows that there is less chance of cancer recurrence in active individuals.
Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness. Contact Robyn by email at: email@example.com
American Cancer Society (2014). Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient. Retrieved http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/stayingactive/physical-activity-and-the-cancer-patient
Web MD (2007). Exercise for Cancer Patients: Fitness After Treatment. Retrieved http://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/exercise-cancer-patients?page=3