The Impact of Psychological Stress on Cancer Growth

The Impact of Psychological Stress on Cancer Growth

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Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 28.2% of all deaths in Canada. The statistics show that more than 2 in 5 Canadians (44% of men and 43% of women) are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime with lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancer making up of 40% of all new cancers.

There are many contributing factors to cancer development – including genetics, environmental exposure, dietary choices, and lifestyle – but one factor that often gets overlooked is psychological stress, also known as emotional stress.

It has been well-documented that psychological stress can be a major contributing factor for many major illnesses and diseases, and unfortunately this can include the “big C” – cancer.

Stress & Cancer

When you look at the relationship between stress and cancer, the research is somewhat varied. Some experts suggest that stress can cause cancer, while others believe it may only contribute to the condition.

Stress is inevitable, and we actually need some stress in our lives. In short doses, stress can actually be healthy for us! However, research has shown that chronic, long-term stress (which in the last couple years has been something that many of us have experienced) has been found to promote and facilitate the development of cancer. This is because stress can weaken the body’s necessary functioning including immune response, and our immune system is largely responsible for keeping cancer at bay (2).

Research has also found that stress may have a greater impact on people who have already been successfully treated for cancer. In one study, researchers found that stress may reactivate dormant tumor cells, causing cancer to return in those in remission (3).

Therefore, managing stress by reducing exposure to stressors and having healthy coping mechanisms might not only help prevent cancer development but also help to reduce the risk of coming out of remission!

Coping with Stress

If you do have a lot of stress, it is important to consider one’s reaction to stress, as this may also make a difference in the susceptibility to disease. When individuals have better stress management strategies and healthy coping mechanisms in place, then their susceptibility to disease is lessened. In short, in most instances it is our reaction to a stressor that is more meaningful to our health outcomes than the details of the stressor itself.

If we find ourselves in stressful situations or environments, and feel that we have little or no control over them, this can result in feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, despair, and depression. These are the types of negative feelings can impact our bodies and predispose us to illness.

So, let’s take a deeper dive into how stress manifests into cancer…

How Stress Contributes To Cancer Growth

When we are under stress, we illicit the “fight or flight” reaction. When this occurs our limbic system (the part of our brain above our brainstem, and the area of the brain responsible for emotions) records stress, depression, and despair; and its effects on the body experienced by an individual. This leads to a response with the hypothalamus (a small region of the brain that acts as our endocrine system’s switchboard).

The messages the hypothalamus receives from the limbic system are translated to two areas of the body – the immune system and the endocrine system. The area that is most responsive to emotional stress is the immune system and regulating the pituitary gland that in turn regulates the remainder of the endocrine system (hormonal system). This is significant because an imbalance of the adrenal hormones will create a greater susceptibility to carcinogenic substances.

The result of such a hormonal imbalance can be an increased production of abnormal cells in the body and a weakened ability of the immune system to combat these cells. Our immune system is the body’s natural defense system, and it is designed to contain or destroy cancerous cells – which are normally present in the body on occasion. If the immune system is suppressed and can no longer perform the duties of containing or destroying cancer cells, it can result in the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. With this sequence of events related to stress and psychological changes, an optimal environment is now created for cancer growth.

It’s clear, emotional stress plays a huge role in suppression of the immune response, leaving the body susceptible to the development of cancer.

So, what do we do about it?

How To Better Manage Our Stress and Emotions To Help Prevent Cancer Growth

There are many strategies you can implement to support the reduction of your stress responses:

Additional Resources

Stress management and cancer prevention are topics that are relevant to nearly all of us. As a result, we’ve written many more resources to help you navigate and apply diet and lifestyle choices that support your health.

  • As identified in this article negative thought patterns and emotions impact our hormones and immune system, so developing positive mindset can be helpful. You, too, can learn how to develop some health positive mindset strategies.
  • Managing stress is key to health, so we’ve outlined some more stress management strategies.
  • Dietary changes that better manage stress hormones is also of vital importance to health. When blood sugars fluctuate too widely our bodies naturally produce the stress hormone cortisol. You can read more about the best foods to manage stress.
  • Maintaining a diet that supports blood sugar balance is another factor in preventing disease. We’ve shared the 4 easy steps to achieving a balanced diet.
  • For more on dietary strategies research shows are cancer preventative, check out 5 Nutrition Strategies for Cancer Prevention.
  • We’ve also listed our favourite foods to help prevent cancer in our article Top 6 Cancer-Preventative Foods.

We hope some of this information encourages you to do what you can to manage stress, prevent cancer, and live as many health-filled years as possible!






Lentil Tahini Burgers

Lentil Tahini Burgers

Two Glasses with Detox Green Smoothie

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Now you can have a nutrient-dense, plant-based burger that everyone in the family is sure to enjoy!

This recipe is very easy to pull together, and the burgers themselves are sturdy and hold up well to your favourite fixings!

Lentils make up the base of this recipe. Not only are lentils a source of high-quality plant-based protein, but they are also a rich source of fibre. Lentils also contain phytonutrients called flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, that have been shown to reduce inflammation. Additionally, lentils contain lignans and saponins, which are plant-compounds that may have anti-cancer potential.

Tahini is the real star of this recipe! Tahini, also known as sesame paste, is made of ground sesame seeds. Sesame seeds contain proteins, healthy fats, fibre, and loads of vitamins and minerals. Sesame seeds are high in both calcium and magnesium, which supports strong bones. Sesame seeds also contain two unique lignans called sesamin and sesamolin. These compounds have protective antioxidant properties and may reduce cardiovascular disease and cancer risk.

Whether you regularly eat a vegan diet or not, these Lentil Tahini Burgers are an excellent way to include more health-promoting plant foods in your diet. In fact, we even included this recipe in our 7-day Cancer-Preventative Menu Plan!

If you give this recipe a try, let us know what your favourite topping combination is!

Lentil Tahini Burgers

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Now you can have a nutrient-dense, plant-based burger that everyone in the family is sure to enjoy!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 burgers


  • 2⅔ cups Green Lentils cooked, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup Tahini
  • 1 Carrot small, shredded
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Onion Powder


  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a food processor with an S-blade, process all ingredients until a well-blended, but not perfectly smooth.
  • Split the mixture into four even parts and shape into patties. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet with a minimum 1” between patties.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm and golden on top.
  • Remove the burgers from the oven. Serve on a bed of lettuce with your favourite toppings such as pickles, sauerkraut, slides avocado, fresh tomato, or grilled pineapple.
  • Enjoy!


Nutritional information per serving:
Calories - 254
Sugar - 3g
Carbs - 31g
Fat - 9g
Protein - 15g
Fibre - 13g

How Much Does a Nutritionist Cost?

How Much Does a Nutritionist Cost?

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It can be tough to know if you are getting value for your money when seeking out a nutritionist to help you with your health goals. We wanted to help you understand if you are being overcharged or paying the appropriate amount for a quality service.

What Nutrition Associations Report

While conducting this research, we reached out to various nutrition associations. Below we’ve outlined what each organization indicated was the market rate for nutritionists in Ontario.

The Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN) was asked to provide their professional opinion as to market average rates for nutritionists in Ontario. They have campuses in Vancouver, Mississauga, Toronto and Ottawa. They indicated that, the base market average rate per hour rate for nutritionists working in clinical or private practice in Ontario, is $90.00. It is important to note, that the market average rate range per hour for a nutritionist working in clinical or private practice in Ontario with a specified knowledge base and experience can be up to $120.00 – $170.00.

The International Organization of Nutrition Consultants (IONC) indicated the average hourly rate for a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP) or Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP) in Ontario is between $75.00 – $125.00 per hour and correlates with experience and skillset.

The Canadian Association of Natural Nutrition Practitioners (CANNP) reported the average range is $85.00 – $150.00 for a first visit which may be one hour or more. They also indicated that many clinicians package out their nutrition sessions over 4–12 sessions to help with client compliance and follow-through, and that the higher the number of sessions often the lower the hourly rate. Packages or programs can be an excellent option for clients to receive a greater value for their investment.

The Edison Institute of Holistic Nutrition recommended the hourly rate of $90.00 – $120.00 an hour.

Based on the above, the range for the hourly rate for a nutritionist is anywhere between $75 and $170 with the average being approximately between $110 – $122.50 an hour.

Factors That Impact The Cost Of A Nutritionist

There are a number of factors that affect the cost of nutrition services, including education level, the pricing structure and packages they offer, and their reputation. Geographic location is another factor, as often in larger more metropolitan cities rates are higher as compared to more rural areas. Of course, additional training or expertise in a specific health concern or area of focus will likely also impact the cost of services as well.

Insurance Coverage For Nutritionists

Nutritionist’s services are insurable in Ontario. More and more organizations, such as school boards and large banks, are recognizing the advantage of covering nutrition services in their extended health benefit programs That said, each individual employer can opt in or out of coverage for nutritionists, so please check your plan coverage for more details. It’s important to note, a dietitian is different from a nutritionist, so when checking your coverage make sure to clarify your options.

Auto-insurance companies can also cover nutritionists’ services for individuals who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA). Koru Nutrition is set up on HCAI and can submit OCF-18s for nutrition services for individuals injured in an MVA.


It’s important to take into account a nutritionist’s education, level of experience, market rates, and insurance coverage options when considering the value of the service they are offering. We hope the above helps you make an informed decision about your health care!

If you would like to explore nutrition services with Koru Nutrition we would love to help you on your health journey book now with Koru Nutrition.


    How Much Does a Dietitian Cost?

    How Much Does a Dietitian Cost?

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    Whether you are a client, referring practitioner, or an insurer it can be confusing to determine the appropriate cost to consult with a dietitian. So, to help you in your decision-making process, we compiled some research into the rates that Registered Dietitians (RDs) charge in Ontario.

    How Much Does A Dietitian Charge?

    The College of Dietitians of Ontario indicated that “RDs should ensure that their billing practices are accurate, transparent and reflective of the dietetic services provided. Charging a fee that is excessive for the dietetic service provided could be considered professional misconduct. While the College doesn’t have fixed charges or specified maximum fees for dietetic services, at some point a high fee can become excessive. Charging a very high fee becomes particularly concerning where a client is financially vulnerable or incapacitated”.

    The Consulting Dietitians Network of Dietitians of Canada provided an updated fee guidelines report for private dietitians in Ontario in 2019. In the province of Ontario, the average hourly rate for nutrition assessments was $125 an hour (range was between $60 and $199 an hour) with hourly rate follow-ups at an average $122 an hour (range of $60 to $199). For Toronto specifically these rates were higher with an average of $139 an hour for an assessment and $119 an hour for treatment. It is important to note that these were provided in 2019 and it is anticipated that these rates are likely higher now given inflation.

    We also interviewed 6 dietitians currently practising privately in Ontario including clinicians from Toronto, Ottawa, Owen Sound, and Thunder Bay. They all indicated the average private rate that they charge is $150 an hour, although they indicated that in their experience in their industry the private rate ranges from $120 to $180 an hour.

    Insurance or Benefits Coverage for Dietitian Services

    Dietitian’s services are insurable in Ontario. Many extended health benefits programs and other plans such as Blue Cross for Veterans Affairs will cover the cost of a dietitian. Each individual plan is different, so it is best to check-in with your insurance or benefit provider for more details.

    How Much Does A Dietitian Charge In The Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Industry

    For individuals that have been involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) there are additional tasks, forms, travel time, report writing and communication amongst the rehabilitation team required. Thankfully, dietitian’s services can be covered by your auto insurance following an MVA.

    Registered Dietitians are not listed in Financial Services Commission of Ontario’s (FSCOs) professional fee guidelines, the government organization that oversees the auto insurance industry. The amounts payable by an insurer related to services not covered by the Guideline are to be determined by the parties involved.

    In short, relating to motor vehicle accidents there are no fee guidelines identified by FSCO for Registered Dietitians. As a result, most dietetics providers in this industry tend to follow guideline fees that are similar in disciplines and qualifications such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and registered nurses; which have similar education, salaries and private rates. Based on the FSCO guidelines for these disciplines Dietitians adhere to the $119.92/hour for cases involving catastrophic injuries (CAT files) and $99.75/hour for cases involving non-catastrophic injury (non-CAT files) These are the same rate for occupational therapists (OTs) and Physiotherapists (PTs).

    The National Occupational Classification (NOC) lists Registered Dietitians in Major Group 313, one group above Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists (Major Group 314), one group below Chiropractors (Major Group 312). Based on NOC’s classification of Registered Dietitians in relation to other Regulated Health Professionals, the $99.75/hr or $119.92/hr fees for a Registered Dietitian practicing in Ontario in the MVA industry are more than reasonable, if not a minimal, fee to charge.

    Further, in reviewing an Independent Evaluation report dated November 2020 for a motor vehicle accident client by Dynamic Functional Solutions, an Independent Medical Evaluations company, the Dietitian Elke Sengmueller, B.A.Sc., RD recommended that the hourly rate for dietitian services in the MVA industry should be $125 an hour.


    It’s important to take into account a Dietitian’s industry and insurance coverage options when determining the cost to consult a dietitian. Whether you are seeking a dietitian to address personal health concerns, are a professional hoping to refer a client for complimentary care, or are in the insurance industry seeking additional information about cost, we hope the above helps you make an informed decision!

    If it’s right for you, we welcome you to book now with Koru Nutrition or to make a referral.


      The Inspiration To Research And Treat Spinal Cord Injury

      The Inspiration To Research And Treat Spinal Cord Injury

      A Personal Note From Kylie James

      For those who don’t know me, I’m Kylie James, a Certified Nutritionist and the founder of Koru Nutrition. It’s a question that comes up often enough, so thought it would be nice to take some time to share why I became interested in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).

      In August 2009, my then 11-month-old nephew became a C3-C4 incomplete quadriplegic as a result of medical negligence. Cooper had undergone surgery to address an extradural hematoma in his spine, but the treatment team failed to recognize his worsening symptoms following surgery, which led to the build-up of pressure on his spinal cord injury resulting in his ultimate injury.

      My sister and her husband were told that he would not be able to use his hands or legs and would be living with a tracheostomy for the rest of his life. Obviously, this was devastating for my family.

      Life for my nephew and family have been tough. Fortunately, he was able to get off the tracheostomy but morning and evening routines are busy with catheters, tube feeds, making special meals, suctioning, and enemas. They also require special vans, wheelchairs and various other adaptive devices. Basic activities such as popping around to a friend’s house is difficult as homes are not accessible.

      In primary school, it was tough for Cooper to try to make friends as so many activities involved sports and physical activities which he could not do. Thankfully, Cooper discovered Power Chair Football and at the early age of 9 he made the New Zealand power chair football team, competing in various tournaments against Australia. He has been voted “most up and coming athlete” and was the second highest goal scorer in New Zealand!

      In the photo above Cooper is pictured with his brother and my daughter.

      Cooper is now 14 years old and has just started high school. When he grows up he wants to be a sports commentator, coach, or design houses.

      To hear more about Cooper’s life now, check out the video below that I filmed with him:

      Naturally, after my nephew had his injury in 2009, I desperately started researching any kind of resources I could to help my family. I was an occupational therapist and a nutritionist, so I felt I must be able to help somehow.

      I had seen a student at my nutrition school that was in a wheelchair and reached out to connect with her and learn about her experience with spinal cord injury. It turns out that we were both working in the auto insurance field and a friendship quickly developed.

      We would often meet up to discuss nutrition as it relates to brain injury and spinal cord injury and realized that there was very limited literature out there on nutrition with spinal cord injury. With this in mind we decided to embark on writing a book to pool together all the resources and studies that related specifically to nutrition and SCI. We applied to the Americans Veterans of America for a grant and won it!

      Over the next 2 years we read many articles and researched secondary health complications that SCI individuals are prone to, foods and supplements that would be the best fit for their condition and developed recipes that were easy to make and cost effective to support specific health issues.

      If you’re interested in how nutrition can support those with SCI, check out Eat Well, Live Well With Spinal Cord Injury:

      Once we finished the book, we began attending various conferences presenting on the topic of nutrition spinal cord injury. One of the things that we found in researching and writing the book was there was limited studies specific to nutrition and SCI. So, part of our goal was to inspire research in this area!

      Joanne Smith and I have now completed 3 studies together. The first two were at Brock University on the impact of inflammation on mood following an SCI and the other on the impact of cytokines on the body in relation pain in individuals with SCI. Our latest study was just recently published, and took place at Maryland University on the impact of aquatic exercise and nutrition on cardiometabolic function.

      I’m so excited to share our most recently published study!

      If you, a client, or someone you love is managing life after a spinal cord injury – we’d love to be of support! Send me an email to [email protected], call us at 1-855-386-5678, or schedule your consultation here.