Reducing Stress for Women with Breast Cancer

The simple but remarkable fact about breast cancer is that two of its most significant risk factors are gender (being a woman) and aging. Not much can be done to undo those two phenomena. In 2014, more than 2.8 million U.S. women either currently or previously had breast cancer.

But the stress that accumulates and helps cause or complicate this disease and many symptoms of aging can be effectively reduced.

In September of 2009 a new study was published in the peer reviewed journal Integrative Cancer Therapies (Vol. 8, No. 3). The study’s data indicated that women with breast cancer experienced reduced stress, improved mental health, and increased emotional well-being through the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The research was a collaboration between the Center for Healthy Aging at Saint Joseph Hospital; the Institute for Health Services, Research and Policy Studies at Northwestern University; the Department of Psychology at Indiana State University; and the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management. The study was supported by grants from the Retirement Research Foundation of Chicago and the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The meditating patients and those in the control group were administered quality of life measures, including the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B), every six months for two years.

The TMers showed significant benefit.

Rhoda Pomerantz, M.D., study co-author and chief of gerontology at Saint Joseph Hospital said, “It is wonderful that physicians now have a range of interventions to use, including Transcendental Meditation, to benefit their patients with cancer. I believe this approach should be appreciated and utilized more widely.”

Stress, which clearly contributes to the onset and progression of breast cancer, has been shown by a large body of research to be significantly reduced through the practice of the TM technique.

Decades of research have shown that stress contributes to the cause and complications of cancer,” said Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., study co-author. “The data from this well-designed clinical trial and related studies suggest that effective stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program may be useful in the prevention and treatment and of breast cancer and its deleterious consequences.”

D.S., a breast cancer survivor in New York who practices the TM technique was happy to have had it available to her. She explained, “It was good to be able to carve out some “me time” doing TM twice a day. It deeply relaxed me and had the benefit of reducing the anxiety in my mind.”

We enjoy being women and can’t stop our birthdays from rolling around annually, but we can certainly learn this valuable technique to help protect ourselves from some of the devastating effects of this disease.

Read article reprinted from Medical NewsToday

About the Author

Amy Ruff, RN BSN, is the education director and director of TM for Nurses nationally in the United States.

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