In a study (published in May 2010, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) investigators have discovered that individuals who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have 6-7 times as many changes to genes that control immune function compared to individuals without PTSD. This is an important study as it adds strong evidence supporting the connection between stress and the function of the immune system. Furthermore, we now have data that show that PTSD can permanently change one’s DNA, reducing the function of their immune system.
Did you know that having a diagnosis of cancer can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder or cause many of the same symptoms that are experienced by those with this condition? Their are many individuals who develop powerful emotional and psychological responses to their cancer diagnosis, symptoms and treatment that they can develop severe stress syndromes. Coping with this stress is an important aspect of cancer care, and one of the areas that integrative oncologists emphasize in counseling sessions with our patients.