What Causes Lung Cancer: Mental and Emotional Triggers To Consider

what causes lung cancer, symbolic view

Studies show that lung cancer alone accounts for 13% of all cancer cases worldwide. We know a lot about its physical factors. But do we know what causes lung cancer from the mental and emotional viewpoint? Let’s explore the symbolic view of lung cancer.

The lungs: their physical function

The lungs are spongy, air-filled organs located on either side of the chest. They play a key role in respiration, one of the most important functions of our body. They inhale air (take in oxygen) and exhale air (expel carbon-dioxide). The oxygen we breathe in then enters the red cells in our blood. And then, these red blood cells carry oxygen to be used by all the cells of our body – tissues, muscles, organs, etc.

Psychological importance and symbolism

what causes of lung cancer, spiritual reasons

  • The breathing action symbolises ‘taking-in’ life.  During this process, we align with nature’s rhythm of give-and-take. This represents the need for mutual sharing, be it in our personal relationships or professional collaborations.
  • The lung is also the point of continuous contact and communication for contrasting worlds. On one hand, there is a constant interaction between our external and internal worlds. On the other hand, there’s a ongoing tussle between the material and emotional worlds.
  • When we breathe consciously, we value our right to exist, live and thrive. By extension, we also take ownership of our life and actions, while being accountable for them. 
The Cancer Rosetta - How Different Healing Systems Understand Cancer

What causes lung cancer: a broader view

Beyond their physical aspects, what causes lung cancer can also be correlated to some mental and emotional triggers.

1. Love and compassion

Noted author Caroline Myss points out that the lungs are influenced by the fourth yogic (Anahata) chakra that relates to love and compassion. She (and other authors) have noted the impact of lack of love, lack of commitment, difficulty in trusting, loneliness, isolation and also love-hate relationships on various illnesses, including lung cancer.

Love fuels  our physical and spiritual bodies. Love motivates us, controls us, inspires us, heals us, and can also destroy us.

Every one of life’s experiences is recorded in our cell tissues: our biography becomes our biology

2. Freedom

Everyone craves freedom, in every aspect of life. But what happens when this freedom eludes you?

  • what causes lung cancer, mental and emotional triggersPeople often feel that the burden of responsibility and expectation curtails freedom.
  • Similarly, fear of engaging with life create self-imposed restrictions.
  • At its worst, you may feel your life is not worth living and you may lose hope or become self-destructive.

Such emotional stressors can severely compromise your immunity.

3. Grief & sorrow

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) associates the lungs with unresolved grief, sorrow, bitterness and resentment.

  • Grief and sorrow are normal and healthy emotions. The act of sobbing, for example, originates in the lungs as deep breaths, which we expel with the sob.
  • But unresolved grief & sorrow can create chronic disharmony in the lungs.
  • As a result, the lung’s Qi (vital energy) weakens and this interferes with the circulation of Qi around the body.

4. Forgiveness

Many spiritual traditions consider forgiveness as a divine act that empowers both giver and receiver. Forgiveness has a deep connection with the body as well.

  • When someone hurts you, it is difficult to forgive that person. But forgiveness is the only way to release the ill-feeling and be at peace.
  • In the same way, you get immense relief by seeking forgiveness, if you have wronged someone else.
  • Through forgiveness,  you can release resentment and other pent up feelings from your lungs


  • What situations/ people in your life are you unwilling to ‘take-in/ accept’, or prefer to avoid contact with?
  • How comfortable are you with ‘give-and-take’ to strengthen relationships and to make progress?
  • To what extent do you ‘yo-yo’ between negative and positive emotions, like anger / resentment and compassion/ trust?
  • How aligned are your external and internal worlds? Also reflect how do you deal with the dissonance.
  • What are some losses in life (material/ interpersonal/ symbolic) which you haven’t have fully mourned?
  • Another question to ponder on, how do you manage your sorrow/ grief?
  • How much do you value Life with all that it entails, including its ups-and-downs?
  • What are some of your self-destructive thoughts/ feelings/ behaviours?
  • Also, how do you cope with feelings of isolation/ loneliness?
  • What blocks you from taking steps towards  new possibilities/ greater freedom in your life?



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