When we think of cancer risk factors, we usually focus on external things like toxins. But what if risk could also come from inside? It can, according to experts. All it takes is an unforgiving mindset.

How Unforgiveness Make Cancer Grow


Dr. Steven Standiford is the chief surgeon at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. He says that unforgiveness weakens the immune system. This leaves the body with poor defenses against cancer cells and the toxins that feed them.

“It’s important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone’s reactions to treatments,” says Dr. Standiford. “In fact, forgiveness therapy is now an integral part of treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.”

Dr. Standiford isn’t the only expert who holds this belief. Researchers at Duke University, University of Tennessee and Standford University also concluded that, “Holding onto hurts, grudges, annoyances, pet peeves or old wounds hurts the body, especially when the memories are triggered by current life events.”

They confirmed Dr. Standiford’s ‘negative thoughts = weakened immune system = increased cancer risk’ hypothesis.

What’s more, Canadian researchers have confirmed that negative thinking alters DNA in a cancer-friendly way. Unforgiveness shortens telomere (DNA end cap) length, which speeds up aging and increases one’s likelihood of cancer dramatically.


Activities like Buddhist meditation – which focuses heavily on forgiveness – keep telomeres preserved.

Perhaps most telling, though, is the fact that 61% of all cancer patients have forgiveness issues, according to Dr. Michael Barry. Dr. Barry is the author of ‘The Forgiveness Project.’

Cancer Isn’t The Only Disease Unforgiveness Causes

According to Psychology Today, unforgiving individuals report higher rates of heart disease and cardiac arrest. This is because negative thinking increases your body’s level of cortisol. When that happens, your body goes into a state of stress. Your blood pressure rises, reducing the amount of blood that makes it to your heart.

Unforgiving individuals also tend to report higher rates of stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches and chronic pain.

Also Read: 3 Ways Forgiveness Heals The Body And Soul

How karmic is all this? By holding a grudge and wishing bad things on another person, we actually welcome negativity and poor health into our own lives.

Have a look at the video below to learn more about the link between illness and unforgiveness.

Have you been holding a grudge against someone? What do you make of these findings? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Psychology Today
Scientific American