Figures released last week, in Jan. 2012, show a drop in cancer death rates of 1.8 percent per year for U.S. men and 1.6 percent for women.
However, incidences of certain types of cancer are on the rise and expected to account for about 245,000 new cancer cases this year—or about 15 percent of the 1.6 million total cancer cases projected for 2012.
The American Cancer Society reported that the causes of the growing types of cancer may be attributed to lifestyle, obesity, chronic infection (such as hepatitis C in the liver), changing sun exposure patterns, and better detection of small tumors that previously went undetected, such as in the thyroid.
Author, cancer researcher and forgiveness expert Michael Barry has spent years conducting clinical research on the link between cancer and the stress of negative emotions—namely the anger, bitterness and resentment associated with unforgiveness.
“While research hasn’t told us that negative emotions actually cause cancer, we do know that emotional stress makes our bodies less effective in fighting against disease, even diseases like cancer,” Barry says. “More in-depth research, better detection and advanced treatment options have accounted for this overall decline in cancer deaths, but we have a long way to go. Through my research and the findings of others, we know that stress on our bodies—including the constant stress of emotional turmoil that comes when we are unwilling or unable to let go of negative emotions associated with unforgiveness—causes our bodies to produce stress hormones. These hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, actually reduce the production of natural killer cells, or the ‘foot soldiers’ in the fight against disease.”
Barry has worked extensively with cancer patients, helping them to process emotions like resentment, anger, bitterness, stress and unforgiveness that may be thwarting their healing process. In his book "The Forgiveness Project," Dr. Barry writes about the debilitating effects that negative emotions can have on our health.
Barry is director of pastoral care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia , where he specializes in the connection between spirituality and health. He has served in ministry for more than 20 years and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows around the country. He is the author of A Reason for Hope, A Season for Hope and The Art of Caregiving.
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