In 1972, nearly all the great nations of the world joined Richard Nixon in declaring war on cancer. At the time it was the 8th leading cause of death, and many of the world’s greatest minds dedicated their lives to curing this terrible disease. Today, almost 50 years later, cancer is our number one cause of death. Not only that but in the coming years, it is expected to increase by as much as 50 percent, to epidemic proportions. The only thing that’s ever made sense to me is that we’re looking in the wrong place.
There’s a point I like to make in my workshops sometimes where I ask anyone in the audience who has a serious illness to raise their hands—cancer, heart disease, diabetes, anything like that. Usually, a few people would raise their hands for each thing, but next, I tell them, “Anyone who didn’t raise their hands for everything is wrong.” We all have the genes for all of these things inside us, the question is whether they will ever manifest.
So what determines whether they manifest? In a word: stress. According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, the only way a cell can manifest a disease gene is when it is in a state of internal stress. Where does that stress come from? Well, it comes from the things we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks, from what ancient manuscripts call the heart, and what modern science calls the unconscious mind.
One of my favorite examples is driving to get a pizza—just an average interaction that you might do on any normal day of the week. Now, when you decide to do this, you’ll tend to form a picture in your mind of how you think that interaction will go. Generally, that expectation will be a pleasant drive, good weather, no traffic… there and back with no problems. Needless to say, that’s not always how these things go.
The key here is that expectations create stress when they aren’t met. This was another finding from Dr. Lipton in a study he conducted at Harvard University, where his ultimate conclusion was, “expectations are a happiness killer.” This is exactly the sort of thing we’re talking about when we talk about Solomon’s advice to “guard your heart above everything else” and to “take every thought captive.” This isn’t only spiritual advice, the way we manage our thoughts reflects onto both our heart and body, which influences everything, physical included.
One of the most formative experiences of my early medical career was watching an interview with Dr. Irving Kirsch on 60 Minutes, where he came right out and said, “antidepressants don’t work.” He explained that pharmaceutical companies aren’t required to submit all of their trial results, they can pick and choose which ones to submit. Naturally, they tend to submit only the more successful ones. Dr. Kirsch had gone to these companies and looked up the full records of many of the popular drugs of the time—especially antianxiety drugs—and concluded that they did not outperform placebos. So what was his solution? Start prescribing placebos instead.
It sounds crazy, right? But think through the logic. We’ve all seen those drug commercials that end with a comically long list of awful side effects. Sugar pills don’t have any side effects, and placebos really do have a statistically measurable effect. So if the real drugs aren’t doing any better, why wouldn’t we use them?
My point here isn’t that you should stop using pharmaceuticals. But think about what “placebo” means. There are three types of belief: placebo means believing something that’s not true. For example, that a sugar pill is actually a drug targeted to your condition. Then there’s nocebo, which means not believing something that really is true. Finally, there’s de facto belief, believing positively in the truth.
So consider this, if placebo is really that powerful (generally effective about 30 percent of the time), how powerful is de facto belief? The most defining beliefs in our life reside in the unconscious mind, in the heart, which in turn governs nearly everything about our day-to-day life: peace, happiness, stress, and even health. This isn’t to say you’ll never be sick, but modern science is continuously revealing that we were meant to live to 120 years old and to be predominantly healthy all through that time. Countless doctors, and even in the Center for Disease Control are coming out with the position that stress is the source of at least 95 percent of illness and disease. Solomon had it right all those thousands of years ago, our best defense against this is to guard our heart.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!