Home » Cancer Survival Tips » Release Suppressed Emotions

Release Suppressed Emotions

Research is quite clear that suppressed emotions not only contribute to the development of cancer, but they can also lead to worse prognosis and more aggressive cancers.

This study concluded: Emotion suppression may convey risk for earlier death, including death from cancer.

This study contains the following:
Extremely low anger scores have been noted in numerous studies of patients with cancer. Such low scores suggest suppression, repression, or restraint of anger. There is evidence to show that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of cancer, and also a factor in its progression after diagnosis. Some studies indicate that it may be beneficial for patients to mobilize anger to battle their cancer.

Suppressed or repressed anger was identified as a characteristic of patients with colorectal cancer in a study comparing more than 600 confirmed cancer cases with cancer-free individuals of the same age and gender. The patients with colorectal cancer were found to have experienced significant childhood loss and unhappiness, and their adult personalities were consistent with the type C profile of the “good” and “nice” person who seeks to avoid conflict and keep negative emotions inside

Physician Steven Greer and colleagues in London conducted several studies investigating the psychological attributes of women in whom breast cancer develops. In Greer’s first study of 160 women, the only attribute that successfully distinguished between benign and malignant breast disease was the way the women handled their emotions, particularly anger. Both “extreme suppressors” (those who had not shown anger openly more than once or twice in their lives) and “extreme expressors” (those who had frequent temper outbursts) had higher rates of diagnosed breast cancer than women with more moderate or “normal” emotional behavior. Extreme suppression was the more common pattern.

Another interesting line of research exists regarding emotional responsivity and the progression of cancer. Some studies indicate that patients may benefit by mobilizing anger to battle their cancer. Levy reviewed the animal and human research literature on cancer progression, concluding that feelings of helplessness and depression are associated with shorter survival periods whereas feelings of anger and active coping styles are associated with longer survival periods.

Anger could be an antidote to feelings of helplessness, serving to mobilize energy for combatting the assaults of the disease itself. Remen claimed that the vitality of anger can be translated into the will to live. Temoshok and Dreher found that patients with cancer who were able to express anger and other emotions had more cancer-killing lymphocytes at their tumor sites. In an oft-cited prospective study that monitored the disease progression in women with breast cancer, the patients who openly expressed their anger lived longer than those who expressed little or no anger. The researchers concluded that the patients who survived longer were more in touch with their negative feelings and more capable of externalizing them.

This review of 18 studies supports the consensus that emotional expression may be directly implicated in cancer onset and progression.
For example, Lydia Temoshok spent more than a decade studying patients with melanoma. Her studies included measurements of tumor thickness and she found they were greater in patients who could not express anger. She came to the conclusion that the core factor of the cancer-prone personality is a lifelong repressive coping style that allows expression of emotion only on rare occasions.

How to Heal Suppressed Emotional Pain in 5 Steps

  1. Be Aware of Avoidance and Denial

The desire to avoid pain is natural. In fact, avoidance and denial are defense mechanisms we often use as an attempt to keep ourselves in a happy, balanced state. But when we live in denial, we keep ourselves locked in a state of fear. Sure, it’s normal to fear the possibility of what shining a flashlight on pain may bring. But in the process of healing ourselves, the first step is to become aware of the suppressed pain or negative experiences you’re avoiding.

  1. Identify Your Negative Emotion

Once you’ve acknowledged a suppressed negative emotion or experience, the next step is to confront and identify with the negative feeling. You may be familiar with the negative emotion, or you may require time and space to honestly explore and address the suppressed pain. Allow yourself quiet time in solitude to conduct a thorough and honest investigation of your heart. Free writing in a journal, or speaking with a therapist is a helpful way to do this.

  1. Witness and Express Your Emotions— aka: “Feel it to Heal it”

Identifying negative emotion is a huge step towards health and vitality, but simply naming the issue isn’t enough. Your presence and attention is required to “stay” or feel through these emotions. When you stay with the emotions, you allow yourself to witness the issue in its entirety, detach, and examine it from different perspectives. This might mean reflecting on past experiences, journaling, using various forms of artistic expression, or verbally expressing these feelings aloud to a trusted person.

  1. Take Responsibility and Action

The negative event or trauma you experienced may have been out of your control, but the residue of these experiences, and the feelings, are your own.
In this fourth stage of emotional recovery, you take control of your present experience, by choosing how you emotionally respond to these past experiences. By taking responsibility in this way, you can redirect potential anger, pain and sadness towards forgiveness, acceptance and healing. You are taking away blame, empowering yourself and taking ownership of your health and happiness.

  1. Release and Rejoice

The final stage of healing is to release and let go of the negative emotions that no longer serve your highest self. By releasing old pain, you open yourself up to new experiences, and the opportunity to experience more joy, love and light. Read full article at Chopratreatmentcenter.com

YouTube player

Studies on releasing suppressed emotions


This study looked at breast cancer survival and found that expression of emotion was related to better survival, and suppression of emotion was associated with worse survival

This 2022 study involving 155 female breast cancer patients found a link between earlier trauma and breast cancer. It found that patients’ repression of negative emotions could contribute to the development of a more aggressive Breast Cancer type.

Results from this study of 36,309 interviews showed that cancer prevalence was significantly greater in PTSD than trauma-exposed and no-trauma exposed respondents,

and greater in trauma-exposed than no-trauma exposed respondents.

Conclusion: Traumatic exposure and PTSD appear to be associated with cancer.

This study concluded: Our analysis of a US nationally representative sample, followed for 12 years for mortality by cause of death, revealed significant associations between higher levels of emotion suppression and all-cause as well as cancer-related mortality.

This Review Article noted:
There is evidence to show that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of cancer, and also a factor in its progression after diagnosis.

This study says: Our principal finding was a significant association between the diagnosis of breast cancer and a behaviour pattern, persisting throughout adult life, of abnormal release of emotions. This abnormality was, in most cases, extreme suppression of anger and, in patients over 40, extreme suppression of other feelings.

This study says: Emotion suppression may convey risk for earlier death, including death from cancer.

Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds

Kelly Turner, PhD, a researcher who specializes in integrative oncology, studied one hundred cancer survivors and analysed over one thousand cases of people who experienced a “radical remission” from “incurable” cancer. She found ten healing factors common among all of the cases she studied. One of these was Releasing suppressed emotions.
See more at www.RadicalRemission.com.

Cancer Survival Tips

Page updated 2024

Please share this page to help others