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The Behavioral Links to Cancer and Your Health

by Lydia Temoshok & Henry Dreher

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-395-57523-7
Publisher: Random House

Convincing evidence that a specific pattern of behavior is a risk factor, albeit one of many, for certain cancers. Psychologist Temoshok (who's connected to Walter Reed Army Medical Center) and science-writer Dreher (Your Defense Against Cancer, 1988) report on Temoshok's research into the link between behavior and cancer and on the research of others into the mind- body connection, especially the role of the immune system. Working with melanoma patients, Temoshok, who takes a biopsychosocial view of health and illness, has discerned among the most severe cases a common pattern for coping with stress. She calls this pattern ``Type C behavior'' and contends that it's marked by passivity, appeasement, and repression of anger and other strong emotions. According to Temoshok, the nonexpression characteristic of the Type C person weakens the immune system, increasing vulnerability to cancer and infectious diseases. The authors generally are careful not to overstate their case, and they make clear that this effect has not been found in all cancers nor in all age groups. They are also aware that the misinterpretation of the mind-body connection sometimes has led patients to blame themselves for their cancers—and that's just not so, say the authors. After a brief look at the roots of Type C behavior, Temoshok and Dreher offer advice on how to transform it into a more balanced, healthier pattern, first through self- awareness and then by taking action. They go on to give specific advice on becoming more assertive with doctors and nurses, expressing emotions constructively, and securing needed support from others. A well-written, responsible presentation of the evidence that there is a correlation between manageable psychological factors and the development of cancer.