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Cancer doctor shares 'common theme' she regularly sees in patients before diagnosis

Cancer doctor shares 'common theme' she regularly sees in patients before diagnosis

The doctor explained why she believes there is a strong connection between your mental state and physical health

When our health suddenly takes a nosedive, there are often signs and symptoms which can help us piece together what might possibly be wrong.

From there, we can then work out what factors in our lifestyle might have made us more susceptible to the sickness - and according to this doctor, it's no different when it comes to cancer.

Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy, based in the US, is a specialist who concentrates on 'treating the whole person, rather than just the disease', so she's always investigating common triggers and tracking certain behaviours.

She's been practicing medicine since 1986 and founded the Center For New Medicine in Irvine, California in 1992 - where she still serves as Medical Director - so she certainly knows a thing or two.

Dr. Connealy has even penned a book titled The Cancer Revolution, which she describes as an 'integrative approach to treating (and preventing) cancer, based on 6 Revolutionary Findings, with a practical program and strategies that have been used with extraordinary success'.

And over the years, the medic has picked up on a re-occurring theme in a lot of her patients who have been diagnosed with the deadly disease.

In a TikTok clip, the board-certified practitioner revealed that she reckons the brain and the body are a lot more connected than people might think, as she believes that someone's mental state can massively affect their physical health.

Dr. Connealy explained in the video: "A common theme that I see in patients regularly is that they have usually suffered some very, very stressful event.

Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy warned that prolonged stress can make you sick. (TikTok/@connealymd)
Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy warned that prolonged stress can make you sick. (TikTok/@connealymd)

"It could be extreme work conditions, it may be a child, it might be a parent, it might be a divorce," she continued.

"But they usually have gone under some extreme stress, which we know affects the whole hypothalamic-pituitary axis and the cortisol production. And extreme cortisol production is contributing to the way cancer grows and proliferates.”

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a communication system between three organs - the brain's hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys.

Stress activates the HPA axis - and if it's because of a situation that is out of your control or traumatic, it will result in a higher-than-normal level of daily cortisol release.

And when you're stressed out for prolonged periods, this essentially means your fight or flight is never switched off, which is bad news as research has shown too much cortisol can really mess up your bodies mojo.

It can increase your risk of health issues such as heart disease, lung issues, obesity, anxiety, depression, and more, as well as causing stress-related skin diseases due to HPA axis hormones becoming hyperactive in the brain.

She claimed that a lot of her patients have usually gone through trauma before being diagnosed. (Getty Stock Image)
She claimed that a lot of her patients have usually gone through trauma before being diagnosed. (Getty Stock Image)

If your HPA is routinely being triggered, this can disrupt your immune system and therefore impact it's ability to destroy harmful cells - including cancerous ones.

On top of that, if you feeling stressed regularly and subsequently having a cortisol overload, this can cause chronic inflammation, which can also damage your cells and the way they operate.

According to Dr. Connealy, these two factors 'play a key role in the development of cancer, metastasis, and increase the risk of recurrence'.

Detailing her knowledge further in the caption, she said: "An excess of these hormones may be directly carcinogenic by suppressing immune function, promoting inflammation, and inhibiting normal cell function. Treating and mitigating stress should be a top priority when treating cancer.

"Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, increase in response to perceived stressors. They play a role in the 'fight or flight' response and help mobilise energy reserves, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and sharpen focus to cope with immediate threats," the cancer specialist said.

"Stress hormones are absolutely necessary because they enable the body to respond effectively to stressful situations and ensure our survival."


She advised people to spend time in the sunshine, make sure you are getting all the nutrients and vitamins you need in your diet, get enough sleep, limit toxin exposure and take frequent walks to chill out.

Experts are divided over how much stress increases the risk of cancer and whether it is a direct cause of it.

Although Professor Melanie Flint, who specialises in the research of the link between the two at the University of Brighton, reckons there is definitely a connection between them.

She's currently investigating how behavioural stress impacts cancer initiation, progression and responses to drug treatments after proving that DNA can be damaged as a result of stress, leading to cell transformation.

However, on the other hand, Cancer Research has said stress does 'not directly increase cancer risk'.

But it added: "But it can be harder for some people to keep healthy during stressful times, which can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

"The best quality studies have followed up many people for several years. They have found no evidence that those who are more stressed are more likely to get cancer. Some people wonder whether stress causes breast cancer.

"But overall, the evidence for this has been poor. And a large study of over 100,000 women in the UK in 2016 showed no consistent evidence between stress and breast cancer."

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week.

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/@connealymd / Getty stock image

Topics: Health, Mental Health, Lifestyle, TikTok, Cancer, Science

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