Today’s Star Columnist: Dr Mary Wren

Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

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As part of another health and wholeness project I am working on, I have been looking at links between emotional health and physical problems.

There is some really interesting research available. Having worked as a doctor for over 25 years, I have developed a sense of how certain personalities seem to be linked with certain illnesses. However, until recently I had not been aware that a number of my suspicions are apparently confirmed in research.

For example, a journal documented how episodes of anger are capable of triggering the onset of acute heart attack. Another showed that levels of hostility in a person were linked with an increased risk of death and also heart attack.

Last March it was reported that nine studies involving thousands of people suggested that in the two hours after an angry outburst, risk of a heart attack increased nearly five-fold and risk of stroke increased more than three-fold.”

Two breast cancer studies have found “a significant association between the diagnosis of breast cancer and a behaviour pattern, persisting throughout adult life, of abnormal release of emotions”.

In most cases, this was to do with suppressing emotions, especially anger.

In bowel cancer there is a similar connection with increased risk in those who repress anger and other negative emotions and try to appear as a nice or good person externally. People who tried to avoid conflict and offending others were more at risk.

In other articles, anger, depression and anxiety were linked with being more likely to develop high blood pressure.

So, what do we conclude from all this? Certainly we cannot say there are always these links, but sometimes there could be.

We must never blame people for their circumstances or personalities. However, we can start to think in a different way about illness and prevention.

Some of these things we can do something about. We can choose to acknowledge our feelings and be real with family and friends. We can choose to let go of anger. We can seek help for anxiety and depression and look for ways to manage our stress. Sometimes the keys for health are not what we expect.

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