Do You Have A Cancer-Prone Personality?
February 22nd, 2015 by Holly Cornish
You’ve most likely heard of the Type A personality.
The Type A person is very competitive, strives for achievement, lacks patience, is easily provoked and displays anger openly. The theory has faded from favor, but at one time “experts” believed people with Type A personalities were at greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
But there’s another type of personality that’s less well known – Type C. People with this personality are thought to be more prone to cancer. Is this true? And if it is, is there anything they can do about it?
Let’s see. . .
Oliver was doomed to die from
cancer within 8 hours –
But then he found out what to do. . .
Oliver had reached the end of the road in his seven-year fight against cancer. His doctors didn’t think this 32-year-old man would live through the night.
But when I talked to Oliver six years later, he was the picture of health! He got rid of his cancer completely.
Yes, Oliver found the answer — his own cancer miracle.
I sat down with him and his doctor and they told me an incredible story. . . a story that could help save you or someone you love from this dreaded disease.
If you’d like to hear it, click here now.
Nearly two thousand years ago the Greek physician Galen believed that melancholic women were more prone to cancer. I’m oversimplifying a bit, but melancholia is what we now call “depression.”
In the 15th century an Italian doctor, Lorenzo Sassoli wrote to a patient, “…what displeases me is your being grieved and taking all matters to heart. For it is this…which destroys our body more than any other cause.”
Dr. Sassoli lived during the Renaissance, when the theory of the “four humors” – one of which was melancholia – was at its height. These humors were actually thought to be fluids in the body. One of them, blood, of course is a fluid. In the four-humor scheme of things, strong blood made for a sanguine personality who was hopeful, playful and carefree.
The four humors suffered the same fate as the idea that the sun revolves around the earth, but belief that emotional states were important in cancer development was reported, under new guises, in many 18th and 19th century publications.
The findings of Dr. Temoshok
Studies in the 1940s and 1950s continued to explore this idea but it wasn’t until 1979 that the Type C personality was coined by Dr. Lydia Temoshok.
Richard Sagebiel, MD, who headed a melanoma clinic in San Francisco, noticed “a strange pattern of stress and coping” among his patients. He asked Dr. Temoshok to make a study of them as she was conducting research into stress and its impact on health.
She found the patients who were not doing well, having the thickest tumors and poorest prognosis, were:
- Bottling up their emotions. Emotionally flat. Hardly ever expressed anger or any negative emotion. Unable to acknowledge sadness or fear. Dismissed or ignored strong emotions.
- Pleasant to a fault, regardless of circumstances. Overwhelmingly nice. Uncomplaining. Unassertive. Cooperative. Patient.
- In denial – used denial as a coping strategy.
- Pleasers. Always putting others first. Overly self-sacrificing. More concerned about the other people in their lives rather than themselves. Striving unduly to please others – even strangers — leaving their own needs unattended.
- Prone to guilt and self-blame. Low self-esteem.
These characteristics she dubbed Type C.
The experience of doctors who treat cancer
Canadian homeopathic doctor Alexander Mostovoy finds this Type C personality a common feature of his cancer patients. He sums up this “carcinogenic personality profile” as follows…
They are more likely to grieve or worry unduly over a personal loss. This could be a financial loss or loss of status as well as loss of a loved one.
They have a passion that has remained unfulfilled and suppressed over many years.
They feel unworthy. They put others’ needs before themselves. They tend to be really nice people.
They avoid conflict or arguments, can’t express hostility, are punctual, neat and tidy, always strive for perfection, work too hard, overachieve and find it difficult to relax.
For over half a century the late Dr. W. Douglas Brodie, founder of the Reno Integrative Medical Center in Nevada and a pioneer of integrative treatments for cancer, found that there were consistent personality traits among the many thousands of his cancer patients.
In addition to the attributes already described, Dr. Brodie found his patients often were not close to one or both parents. This may have been a problem early in their lives or occurred later in life. He believed it was linked to a lack of intimacy with their spouse or family member.
The carcinogenic personality may harbor long-suppressed resentments, anger or hostility. These may originate in childhood and the patient may be unaware they exist. Patients who fit the profile internalize emotions and find it hard to express them.
Rashid Buttar, Medical Director of the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research, Cornelius, North Carolina, has treated hundreds of cases of breast cancer. He says: “Nearly all of the women were constantly giving of themselves and were always worried about something…they never ever took time off for themselves.”
Positive results from medical studies
Studies have been carried out to find if the experience of these and other doctors has any foundation. In some of the studies, the Type C trait (or collection of traits) has been found to be a feature.
For instance, in 1991 Australian researchers analyzed 600 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer to find out if personality was associated with the disease. The patients were compared to matched controls – very similar people who did not have cancer.
The researchers found that cancer patients were significantly more likely to show “the elements of denial and repression of anger and of other negative emotions…the external appearance of ‘nice’ or ‘good’ person, a suppression of reactions which may offend others, and the avoidance of conflict.”
One of the problems when looking at personality factors with respect to cancer is that in the Australian study, as well as in the experience of doctors who treat cancer, the disease has already been diagnosed.
Can we be sure that people who have been given such devastating news are going to display the same personality traits as they did before they met the doctor and received the diagnosis?
One way to find out is by taking psychological profiles of people before they go on to succumb to cancer.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University began a long term prospective study, starting in 1946, to see if psychological factors could predict future disease states. They followed 1,130 medical students over 18 years. The results came as a surprise to them.
“Our results appear to agree with findings that cancer patients ‘tend to deny and repress conflictual impulses and emotions to a higher degree than do other people.'”
Negative results from medical studies
Whilst many older studies endorse the idea of a cancer personality, most newer studies — using more advanced methodology — do not.
A review of studies in 2010 concluded that they “do not give much support to personality as a causative factor for cancer.”
Another review in 2014 included over 42,000 people and more than 2,000 suffering from six types of cancer amongst them. They looked at five personality traits – extraversion (sociable, outgoing personality), neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.
They concluded that “none of the personality traits were associated with the incidence of all cancers or any of the six site-specific cancers.”
Another major long-term study was published in 2010. Nearly 60,000 people were followed for 30 years. The scientists looked at the personality traits of extraversion and neuroticism as well as many other risk factors. They concluded that these personality characteristics “were not significantly associated with risk of cancers.”
Is there a cancer personality or is it chronic stress?
Gabor Maté, a Canadian doctor, has studied the Type C personality extensively. He believes that the features of this personality make people of this type more vulnerable to stress.
“It is stress – not personality per se – that undermines a body’s physiological balance and immune defenses, predisposing to disease or reducing the resistance to it.
“Physiological stress, then, is the link between personality traits and disease.”
Dr. Temoshok disagrees.
“Stress per se is not a critical factor in illness – it’s the strength or weakness of one’s coping mechanism.”
Most oncologists are uncomfortable with the idea of a cancer personality because they believe patients will think they brought on the disease themselves. They say the research is inconclusive in any case.
Those that believe in the concept point out that it is just one of the many factors that have a role to play in the development of cancer.
I fall into this camp myself. I absolutely believe stress plays a role in cancer, and I also believe that personality traits likely play a role, too, for some people. After all, holding in anger all the time, or constantly trying to please others, is very stressful.
But as causes of cancer, I believe these emotional factors are overwhelmed by over-consumption of sugar and other carbs, nutrient-poor diets, poor exercise habits, poor sleep habits, exposure to toxins, and other factors that regular readers of this newsletter will be familiar with.
Just as people may change their diet, cut out smoking or reduce their environmental exposure to toxins in order to lower their cancer risk, so they should not shy away from looking at aspects of their personality that may damage their health. Both the sick and the healthy should look for ways to reduce these risk factors. Getting stress out of your life is essential not only to avoiding cancer, but to happiness in general.
Even if there isn’t a cancer personality as such, work with a health professional – if that’s what it takes — to learn to feel comfortable about taking time out for yourself, express yourself emotionally, be more assertive, and build greater self-esteem. These are valuable qualities for anyone, whatever their link to health may be.
Lee Euler, Publisher