Monday, March 23, 2009

Are You Taking Your Medicine?

Proverbs 17:22 NLT: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.

Much has been said about the power of laughter to heal. I want to share some research that links breast cancer and attitude. Recent research at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel provides this interesting finding: happiness and optimistic attitudes may reduce one's risk of contracting the disease. In this study 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 shared information about their life experiences.

The researchers assessed their optimism, happiness, anxiety and depression levels before diagnosis. They used this information to find the connection between life events, psychological distress and the occurrence of breast cancer. Of these 622 participants, 255 were breast cancer patients, while the other 367 had never had cancer.

Their findings revealed a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer. Optimistic women were 25 % less likely to have developed this disease. There have been other studies linking positive mental and emotional states and better health. Some studies have shown that positive emotions cause the body to produce more immune cells, while negative ones tend to suppress one's immune system. The specifics of how attitudes contribute to health, are still not fully understood. What is known is that the body's immune system is influenced by brain chemistry, which is in turn affected by emotional experiences.

Emotions such as happiness, stress, anger, anxiety and fear affect us at a biochemical level because every emotion has a frequency. Every emotion produces a specific and distinct biochemical reaction that affects the entire body. This particular study concluded that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event is a risk factor for breast cancer among young women, and feeling happy and optimistic can be protective.

Many degenerative diseases, and most certainly cancer, have multiple causes. That being so, many factors contribute to one's risk profile, and a multi-faceted approach in preventing and dealing with disease is always most effective. We cannot ignore the spiritual and emotional connections. We overlook their importance to our own detriment.

Consider another finding. Pro-zeranine is a powerful chemical substance that is actually able to reverse addictions naturally since they are due to a lack of this substance. It has been found that laughter actually produces pro-zeranine in the body!

While we cannot control circumstances and situations we may be faced with, we can control how we respond to them and we certainly can take control of our attitudes. Cultivating a cheerful heart is one of the most pleasant medicines I can imagine taking! As always, Father really does know best.

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