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Volume 1, Number 1, 2001



The Prevention of Cancer in Individuals With a Type C Personality Through a Holistic Lifestyle
Irene Switankowsky

Cancer is becoming an epidemic in young Western patients, especially cancer of the breast, colon and prostate.(1) A substantial volume of literature now connects certain types certain types of personalities and lifestyles, and the development of cancer.(2) It is proposed that each individual harbours dormant cancer cells that, given proper psychological and physical conditions, become active. Also, Western culture is often hurried and stressful. Clinical studies show that the primary reason for 50 to 75% of all doctor's visits is related to stress, and that, in terms of mortality, stress posses a more serious risk factor than even tobacco.(3) In fact, in the United States, eight of ten most
commonly used medications, such as antidepressants, anxiolytics and sleeping pills, antacids for heartburn and ulcers, and medications for high blood pressure, are intended to treat symptoms directly related to stress.(4) In 1999, three of the top-selling drugs in the United States were antidepressants (Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft).(5) It is estimated that about one in eight Americans have taken antidepressants, almost one-half of them for more than a year.(6) If he/she wishes, each individual can choose to live in a less stressful and more conscious manner. The primary aim of this paper is to explain how individuals who are most prone to develop cancer can prevent its development by living more consciously and holistically. 

The relevant medical literature proposes that the more stress an individual bears the more likely (s)he will develop cancer cells that will lead to deadly tumours.(7) In addition, substantial research shows that certain personality types are more prone to malignant change because of their inability to cope with stress. Thus, each individual's best interest is served by managing his/her health in ways that are true to his/her goals in life. Many medical practitioners believe that cancer can be prevented
by changing one's lifestyle so as to control or reduce the stresses and toxic emotions associated with type C personality (see below). A toxic emotion is a stressor, such as anger, that has an adverse effect on an individual's mental and physical health. This paper will describe how an individual can prevent toxic emotions that are especially prevalent for certain individuals, because of their character, personality, and predispositions. In the process, I hope to make the reader aware of a holistic mode of living. Holistic living is a method of living and medical care that takes into account the individual's physical and mental states as well as social background rather than just treating the disease alone.

The paper is divided into two parts. Part I outlines the key characteristics of a Type C personality and shows why such individuals are prone to develop cancer cells. This section will specifically show how an individual's mental state can alter his/her susceptibility to the development of cancer and improve his/her chances of surviving it. Part II explains how individuals can prevent the development of cancer by living with more peace, fulfilment, and psychological balance. In the process, I hope to
empower all individuals, especially those with a Type C personality, to take charge of their lives.

I.  Personality C and The Cancer-Prone Personality

The purpose of this section is to show that an individual with a Type C personality is more prone to the development of cancer because of the levels of emotional toxicity that (s)he tries to endure. In contrast to the aggressive, energetic and ambitious Type A personality which is prone to heart disease, Type C is passive, compliant, and uncertain. Characteristically, individuals with a Type C personality always want to be right, accurate and logical. They look for what could go wrong in all situations, read the fine print, have high standards, are perfectionists and lack emotion and spontaneity. Often they sacrifice their values and beliefs in favour of someone's else's. They care about others more than themselves, and are especially perplexed by sudden changes in routine.
Individuals with a Type C personality dislike socializing and dealing with emotionally charged situations. They are secretive about even the simplest things about themselves. Also, they have a tendency towards hopelessness.(9)

Individuals with a Type C personality can also become highly critical of others and of themselves. This tendency to criticize can become toxic and, of itself, can create disharmony in relationships with close relatives, friends, and spouses.  Also, this kind of toxicity makes it difficult for individuals to cope with their personal lives. Given the passivity of the Type C mind and their disturbed relationships, the continuous inner turmoils and their routine angst, it is not difficult to see why a Type C individual's personality makes him/her more prone to the development of cancer. Physicians
are beginning to accept this possibility and to take preventive measures.(10) Over time, toxic emotions weaken the body's biological defence mechanisms. Such toxic emotions might influence the initiation of a tumour, its growth, or its metastatic spread. Both tumour growth and metastasis depend upon the local blood supply. Thus, anything that affects the blood vessels (such as continuous stress) could affect growth and metastasis. The mind and emotions affect the sympathetic nervous system which, in turn, affect the blood vessels.(11)

Thus, individuals with a Type C personality are more susceptible to cancer because their perceptions, behaviour and personality is believed to lower their immunity. Perception plays a subtle but pervasive role. Since Type C individuals suppress their feelings and emotions, often they won't know that they have developed cancer until it is too late. Given that individuals with a Type C personality tend to sacrifice their beliefs and values for others, they tend to neglect themselves. Many such individuals refrain from exercise and from a healthy diet. Fewer still practice meditation or attempt to become more conscious and aware of their feelings. 

II. A Healthy, Conscious and Whole Lifestyle

To assist in the prevention of cancer, an individual with a Type C personality should become less passive and more aware of his/her emotions and feelings. However, it is difficult for such individuals to change because usually they are fixed in their ways. However, an awareness of natural predispositions and tendencies helps one to become less passive and prepared to take action. Type C individuals should assert their rights more often and express their feelings more openly, changing from passivity to self-awareness and freedom of choice. These individuals are so careful about norms and duties that they suppress genuine thoughts and feelings. This attitude can immobolize individuals, making them feel trapped in their own psychological limitations. 

 Thus, a first step is for Type C individuals to become aware of and accept their emotions. By doing so, these individuals gain access to their intuitive wisdom which is each individual's biological birthright. To open up to one's true self and to all of one's limitations, individuals must first acknowledge and claim all of their feelings, including their anger, grief, and fear. They must recognize anger, grief, and fear since all are essential to survival, because anger is needed to define boundaries, grief to deal with losses, and fear to protect them from danger. Over time, the more individuals deny and repress their feelings and emotions, the more toxic they will become. 

An inner state of balance can be achieved by relying on our sense of awareness and intuition. First, an individual must practise being fully conscious. Most lifestyle choices involve doing things. However, individuals need to discover that making choices has less to do with doing and more to do with being. Human beings are not merely a series of activities ("doings"). Full consciousness requires mental, emotional and physical awareness. The more conscious individuals become, the more they can 'listen in' on the 'conversation' going on at autonomic or subconscious levels of the body, on such
basic functions as breathing, digestion, immunity, pain control, and blood flow. Only with conscious awareness can individuals converse with their own bodies, using such awareness to enhance the effectiveness of the autonomic system, where health or disease are being determined minute by minute.

Second, blood flow is closely regulated by emotional peptides. A peptide is a compound formed by the union of two or more amino acids. These emotional peptides bind to receptors on blood vessel walls to constrict or dilate, and so influence the volume and velocity of blood flow through them. For instance, some individuals turn white when they hear shocking news while some turn beet red when they become enraged. By becoming aware of past experiences and conditioning, we can release
ourselves from such negative emotional blockages. When emotional blockages have become established, individuals may need psychological counselling, hypnotherapy, touch therapies, personal-growth seminars, meditation, and prayer. All of these can make individuals conscious of what is occurring in the present.

Third, individuals must get in touch with their bodies so that they can become aware if they are low or sluggish, feeling anxious or jittery, feeling worthless or just plain feeling out of sorts. An individual's mind and feelings are in the body and it is through one's somatic experiences that feelings and emotions can be examined and healed. However, before this can occur, individuals must become aware of their emotions. This is especially important for an individual with a Type C personality because most Type C's frequently suppress pain and discomfort. They live with so many suppressed emotions that usually they are unaware of changes in their bodies, such as the subtle differences and discomforts associated with malignant change. Unless an individual becomes aware of such differences, they may miss some of the early warning signs. 

            Mindful meditation can dramatically reduce pain and improve mood for individuals who, for instance, live with chronic pain. It allows them to exist in the present moment rather than in constant-fear that their pain is 'killing' them. A simple, less formal practise is the habit of self-honesty, that is being true to oneself and living in a state of personal integrity. Honesty can be stress-reducing, especially for individuals with a Type C personality because usually they hide their genuine feelings
and emotions. Such repression creates endless inner tensions. If an individual has an honest purpose, then every system will get behind that intention and do what needs to be done. Physiological integrity and directness is the result of being clear about our own intentions. When one is at cross-purposes, going through the motions but not really committed to a goal, saying one thing and doing another, one's emotions are confused, and (s)he suffers from this lack of integrity. In turn, this confused state impairs the individual's physiologic integrity. The weakened, disturbed psychosomatic network leaves the individual open to stress and eventually to illness. 


Type C individuals should strive to express their feelings freely and to accept their own emotions, giving them free reign and allowing them a natural release. In this way, 'toxic' emotions, such as anger, hate, mistrust, etc., can be transformed and individuals can be liberated from suffering. When an individual's emotions move freely, one will experience freedom, hopefulness, and joy because one will be in a whole state. The goal is to keep information flowing, feedback systems working, and natural balance maintained. This is achieved most readily through a conscious decision to enter into
the body-mind's conversation. Type C individuals should strive to create a positive relationship with their bodies that will stimulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Each individual's life can be an adventure. By discovering who they are, individuals with a Type C personality can lead healthier lives and help to suppress any tendency to malignant change.



1.      David Servan-Schreiber's Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. (Toronto: Harper-Collins, 2007), p. 4.


2.      Paul Martin's, The Healing Mind: The Vital Links Between Brain and Behavior, Immunity and Disease, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997),  p. 282.


3.      B.H. MacFarland, Freeborn, D.K., et al. "Utilization Patterns Among Long-Term Enrollees in a Prepaid Group Practice Health Maintenance Organization," Medical Care, 23 (1985): 1123-1125.




N.A. Cummings, and N. Van den Bos, "The Twenty Year Kaiser Permanente Experience
with Psychotherapy and Medical Utilization: Implications for National Health Policy
and National Health Insurance," in Health Policy Quarterly 1 (1981): 152-175.


4.     David Servan-Schreiber's Instinct to Heal: Curing Stress, Anxiety and Depression Without Drugs and Without Talk Therapy. (Toronto: St. Martin's Press, 2004, p. 7-8.


5.      D. Antonuccio, D.D. Burns, et. al., "Antidepressants: A triumph of Marketing Over Science?"  Prevention and Treatment, 5, Article 25, posted July 15, 2002.


6.              Langer, G., "Use of Antidepressants is a long-term practise,", (2000). 


7.              Paul Martin's The Healing Mind, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), p. 218-219.


8.       Paul Martin's, The Healing Mind, Chapter 8, (New York: St. Martin's Press,

          1997),  p. 220-222.


9.       Paul Martin's, The Healing Mind, Chapter 9, (New York: St. Martin's Press,      

          1997). p. 223.


10.      Temoshok, Lydia, and Henry Dreher.  The Type C Connection, p. 98-99, (New        

  York: Random House, 1992.


11.      Temoshok, Lydia, and Henry Dreher.  The Type C Connection, p. 100, (New

  York: Random House, 1992.