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Are Your Thoughts Making You Sick?

In the words of psychooncologist Lawrence LeShan, PhD: “Feelings affect body chemistry, which affects the development or regression of a tumor, just as body chemistry affects feelings.” In other words, what Dr. LeShan was saying was that our thought processes affect our body chemistry and those biochemical changes do influence tumor growth as well as tumor regression. Also, changes in body chemistry, regardless of the etiology of those changes, also affect our thought processes. This is an extremely complex psychophysiological issue.

The bottom line is that your health is not just dependent on your genes, your diet, how much you exercise, and whether you get enough sleep; it is also dependent upon your thought processes. People who are very judgmental, especially when they chronically keep putting themselves down, cannot escape a negative influence on their health. If that describes you, the good news is that there is no direct correlation; in other words, negative, self-deprecating thoughts have never been proven to cause cancer or any other disease. However, what we do know is that any chronic emotional distress from any source does interfere with immune function, which in turn increases the odds of contracting a terrible disease, especially those diseases to which we are genetically predisposed.

For this reason I highly recommend doing all you can to improve your wellbeing. Becoming a happier person requires hard work. Suggestions can be found here:

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Are Your Thoughts Making You Sick?

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Berkelhammer is a retired mind-body medicine psychologist. He writes about mindfulness-based practices with a unique emphasis on optimization of wellbeing and health. Dr. Berkelhammer also lectures at San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, and is currently teaching a class in Marin County through College of Marin. He is the author of the book "In Your Own Hands; New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions".

See his extensive website:

In Your Own Hands: Mindfulness-Based Practices to Optimize Wellbeing - College of Marin Community Education

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APA Reference
Berkelhammer, D. (2016). Are Your Thoughts Making You Sick?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Apr 2016
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