Living organisms are composed of trillions of cells and bacteria that go through their respective life cycles constantly. For example, on the cellular level, DNA replication occurs and produces identical cells. At times, mutations can occur in some of them due to external activities and environmental factors. As in humans, the immune system plays an important role to combat cell mutations and illnesses and helps to minimize mutations that can potentially lead to the formation of tumor. On the other hand, immunodeficiency increases the risk of mutation, hence, leads to uncontrolled cell division, and could increase the risk of developing cancer in some cases. Increase of weakening immune system could be decrees through developing compassionate mind.
Frontiers in Immunology published an article by Fang-Ping that introduces eight hypothetical studies in support of the cancer-immune-surveillance. The author conveys a study that shows immunodeficiency in human and mice is associated with increased risk of cancer. Similarly, many scientific studies support the idea that immune system is the key in preventing and treating cancer. In addition to that, maintaining physical fitness and a stable attitude/mind could also be beneficial to keeping our immune system healthy. Our mental attitude affects our mind, which could influence our physical system and emotions in both positive and negative ways. For instance, when we experience stress, the brain releases cortisol, a hormone produced through Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal axis (HPA-axis), in response to stressful event and attempts to bring back the body to normal state through negative feedback. However, recurrence of stress weakens our immune system and our physical resistance to stress.
Our mind has a great potential for self-transformation. By utilizing this potential, we can cultivate compassion and other positive states of mind as a tool to combat stress. Gradually the mind familiarizes itself with positive attitudes, which can rest our mind in peace. Although stress may arise occasionally, it will settle to rest effortlessly.
Moreover, a calm mind can reduce stress level for the long run, which can be achieved through the practice of compassion. Compassionate mindset cares for the self as much as it cares for others. As a result, this caring mindset creates a basis for self-confidence and makes you more peaceful and allows you to have stronger relationships with others. This can help you become a more socially active person because compassionate mind encourages you to reach out to more people and understand them. In short, this process gives us a chance to be open and prepares us to easily face difficult situations, and in turn helps to reduce our stress level.
In conclusion, the immune system plays an essential role to combat cell mutations and formation of cancerous cells. But, being compassionate is mutually beneficial in keeping our body and mind at peace and healthy. The practice of compassion allows us to reach out to help others, and that creates a sense of social network for us as well. We could say that compassionate behavior is caring for our wellbeing as it helps us to keep our immune system strong. As a result, the trillions of cells and bacteria in our bodies could undergo a healthy lifecycle and minimize our risk of developing cancer.
Reference : Frontiers in Immunology 2014