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CLL Life

by Anonymous

09 May 2011 at 14:21

Forgiveness and immunity in cancer

As many cancers affect the immune system at some stage, the disease itself or treatment. As chronic lymphocytic leukaemia's  major day to day effect on us is immunodeficiency a recent overseas post intrigued me. 
A recent report at a scientific meeting (excerpts below) observed that CD4+ T cells percentages in HIV-positive patients are elevated by the experience of forgiveness.  The neuro-immune connection is now well-documented, and, as a result, it seems plausible that the positive neurological effects of forgiveness could have positive biochemical effects on immune function.  A connection with immune function in cancer is discussed.

 "Forgiveness Can Improve Immune Function", May 5, 2011
FROM: Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) 32nd
Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions: Abstract
4010. Presented April 30, 2011.
A new study conducted in people living with HIV shows individuals who truly forgave someone who had hurt them in the past showed positive changes in their immune status.
Dr. Owen also defined forgiveness strictly as being a freely made choice to move away from negative cognitive,emotional, and behavioral responses toward a person who caused a hurt and work towards developing positive cognitive emotional and behavioral responses toward that person.
In bivariate correlations, results showed that greater forgiveness was significantly associated with higher CD4 percentages, whereas linear regression analyses found that this relationship remained significant after controlling for the potential influence of other factors.
"If psychiatrists want to counsel patients about forgiveness, they first need to understand very deeply what forgiveness is and what it is not," she said. "If there isn't a good therapeutic
relationship between a physician and the patient, “what patients can hear from you when you are suggesting forgiveness is, 'I don't want to hear about it anymore and what's wrong with you that you are not just fine with it.' But that can be extremely violating and potentially retraumatize
the person who has already been deeply hurt."It's also very important to respect a patient's anger, she added, because sometimes that is all a person has.
Reverend Michael Barry, PhD, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, told Medscape Medical News that unforgiveness is a state where a person retains negative emotions, including anger and hatred, for a perpetrator of harm."This creates a state of chronic anxiety, and chronic anxiety has a predictable impact on a wide range of bodily functions, including the reproductive system, the digestive system, and the immune system," he said. For example, stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenalin, have been shown to reduce the production of natural killer cells ­ the "foot soldiers" in the fight against cancer, he noted. Dr. Barry's own research has shown that almost two-thirds of cancer patients identified forgiveness as a personal issue for them, and 1 in 3 of them indicated they had severe
forgiveness issues, "so we are aware of the emotional pain that many of our patients are in.

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