“A healthy body houses a healthy mind” is placed under the lens when we consider that a “healthy mind and healthy body must go hand-in-hand to support a healthy human being”.
This June, the Cancer Association of Namibia (WO30) places the holistic health of our Namibian at the forefront, “simply because we can no longer detach the one from the other” – says Rolf Hansen, CEO of CAN.
Medical studies have shown than continuous emotional and negative stress severely influence and compromise the immune system. It is therefore critical that the “bigger picture” must be seen, to address health issues. While hereditary and generic factors influencing cancer are noted, these only contribute to 5–10% of all cancer cases, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The important lifestyle factors that affect the incidence and mortality of cancer include tobacco, alcohol, diet, obesity, infectious agents, environmental pollutants, and radiation. These elements are linked to other severe and life-threatening diseases, and mental health is intertwined therein too!
After sequencing his own genome, pioneer American genomic researcher, Craig Venter, remarked at a leadership for the twenty-first century conference that “Human biology is actually far more complicated than we imagine. Everybody talks about the genes that they received from their mother and father, for this trait or the other. But in reality, those genes have very little impact on life outcomes. Our biology is way too complicated for that and deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors. Genes are absolutely not our fate. They can give us useful information about the increased risk of a disease, but in most cases, they will not determine the actual cause of the disease, or the actual incidence of somebody getting it. Most biology will come from the complex interaction of all the proteins and cells working with environmental factors, not driven directly by the genetic code”
Another very important aspect to consider according to a new John Hopkins University research study in supporting mental health, suggests that people with serious mental illness —schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and disabling depression — are 2.6 times more likely to develop cancer than the general population!
This, while a cancer diagnosis can also affect the emotional health of patients, families, and caregivers. Common feelings during this life-changing experience include anxiety, distress, and depression. Roles at home, school, and work can be affected. It’s important to recognize these changes and get help when needed.
“It is therefore imperative that healthcare, spanning all diseases, includes a holistic approach – body, mind and soul should be addressed to build a healthier nation” – concludes Hansen.
The Cancer Association of Namibia hosts regular men’s health clinics for the prevention of cancer and also has a telephonic and in-house information and support programme called the Standard Bank Circle of Hope.