(Health Secrets) Looking for a way to slow cancer growth that doesn’t involve toxic chemicals or radiation? Researchers from Ohio State University and Cornell University have found that the positive stress from interaction with other people and the fun of play can help to fight cancer by slowing down tumor growth. Although the study, which was published in the journal Cell, looked at the impact of socializing in mice, it is thought that similar effects could be experienced by humans.
What did the study show?
The study looked at two groups of mice with either skin cancer or colon cancer. One group of mice were kept in standard cages where they lived in groups of five with little to do, while the other group were given more space to roam around, a variety of play things, and the freedom to interact with around twenty other mice.
The researchers discovered that the mice who were allowed to socialize, experience stimulation and play had decreased tumor size compared with the other group, and more of them experienced their cancer going into remission.
In fact, the mice in the second group saw a whopping 77% decrease in tumor weight, and a 43% decrease in tumor size. After 3 weeks 5% of them had no signs of cancer at all.
How can socializing and playing slow cancer growth?
The researchers suggest that the positive stress of socializing and play can release the chemical BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). In turn this releases chemical signals to fat cells to release a hormone known as leptin , which can lead to an improved immune response against cancer.
Although the study looked at the impact on mice, the study leader Matthew During believes that socializing and play could help to reduce cancerous tumors in humans. He believes that changing a cancer patient’s living conditions and mental outlook should play an important a role in their treatment.
“The goal isn’t to minimize stress, but to live a richer life, socially and physically. You want to be challenged. This paper really suggests if we look at people more in terms of their perceptions of disease, their social interactions and environment, we could realize a profound influence on cancer.”
Other health benefits of socializing and play
Being sociable is known to have a variety of other health benefits. Getting out and interacting with other people can:
- Reduce risk of depression and anxiety
- Limit the effects of Alzheimer ’s disease
- Guard against insomnia or poor sleep patterns
- Maintain healthy blood pressure levels
- Boost the immune system
Play makes you feel young, free and happy, a condition that leads to the release of many chemicals in the brain and body that lead to better health.
If you are cut off from friends and family and feel that loneliness may be negatively impacting your health, there are plenty of things you can do. Here are some tips on improving your health through socializing and play.
- Remember that one or two true friends are better than twenty acquaintances.
- Join a class or course doing something you enjoy. You will meet people with the same interests, and since there will be an activity going on, there won’t be too much pressure to make connections.
- Find a local group or perhaps a local church where you can get involved in various activities to suit any age group.
- Look for an activity where you can make a difference. Charity work can be very rewarding and provide plenty of opportunities for socializing at the same time.
- Don’t always assume that people are too busy with their own lives to see you. They may be at home feeling exactly the same way and also experiencing loneliness.