Naturopathic physician Michelle Hamilton, speaking on the topic of cancer prevention on day three of a Health Summit hosted by the Inter-American Division (IAD) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, cited a World Health Organization (WHO) report that cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Around the world, about one in six deaths is caused by cancer.
Hamilton said she believes that figure could have been lower if people would focus not only on food and exercise and but also on other factors that affect their bodies.
“In cancer prevention, most of us focus on food and exercise,” Hamilton said. “It is often said that we will create healthy sinners if persons focus [only] on what they take into their bodies to be healthy. It is true because we fail to see the connection in terms of our organs, and our minds, our emotions, our families, our environment.”
Hamilton, who is also managing director of Hope Lifestyle Center in Kingston, Jamaica, posited that “because we are fearfully and wonderfully made, God has given us the gift of life, and this life that we have is very complex, as we have failed to understand the connections between the mind and the body.”
“To prevent cancer, one has to understand that we need to be whole,” Hamilton added.
“We need to be whole in mind, body, and spirit, and to do so, it is important that we have balance in our lives,” she explained. “Things are not separate. Our emotions that we express to others, our friendships that we have, all have a consequence. You may think that someone has hurt you and it feels or produces a negative reaction, but in the true sense, our bodies also have a memory of that, and it affects how we live our lives each day and how we process the things around us, and even the things that we take into our bodies.”
According to WHO, approximately one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index (overweight), low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
“To prevent cancer, we have to understand it from a wholistic standpoint, where we understand that each organ function is essential, and our very thoughts, our emotions, our relationship, all play a role in our body function.”
About 100 types of cancers are known today, with approximately 70 percent of cancer deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
“Cancer in itself needs an environment to thrive, and that environment is one of chronic inflammation. The inflammation comes about through several different pathways,” Hamilton said. It comes about through the thought process, which is to say that if you are not happy, if you are always angry, if you feel emotions that you are unable to express, all of that in some way affects your immune system, she added. “It also affects your digestive system and your hormones, but we don’t put a lot of emphasis on that, because we don’t make the connections.”
Hamilton argued that people need to understood how certain foods can cause cancer or produce inflammation that, in turn, may create the environment that cancer thrives in, as well as other lifestyle diseases.
“But if you have the perfect healthy diet, have been a vegetarian all your life, but you are someone who has unresolved emotions, unresolved relationships, or have a lot of fear and anxiety, then you create the same reaction in the body as chronic inflammation.”
Anna-Kay Price, health ministries director in the Atlantic Caribbean Union church region, said she enjoyed the wholistic approach that Hamilton presented about preventing cancer.
“Everyone wants to know how to prevent cancer, because there are so many people dying from it,” Price said. “She [Hamilton] did not only deal with diet and exercise, which most people focus on, but also the very important aspect of emotion, how we relate to others in terms of anger and forgiveness.”
Price believes that the approach Hamilton presented is the correct one and is backed up by the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White, a cofounder and pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“A healthy mind will give you a healthy body. So I hope that we can make the connections to realize that nothing is separate; it’s all connected,” Hamilton concluded.