If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer these days you’ll have a better survival rate than women in previous decades. But there are still serious challenges to face after treatment. We know that up to half breast cancer survivors are depressed. Now, researchers say a meditation technique can help breast cancer survivors improve their emotional and physical well-being.
Research at the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri shows that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction which uses meditation, yoga and physical awareness can make a big difference.
“MBSR is another tool to enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors,” Professor Jane Armer said. “Patients often are given a variety of options to reduce stress, but they should choose what works for them according to their lifestyles and belief systems.”
Their program is eight to ten weeks of group sessions involving meditation skills, stress reduction and coping techniques. Breast cancer survivors who did the program lowered their blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Their mood improved, and mindfulness increased.
“Mindfulness-based meditation, ideally, should be practiced every day or at least on a routine schedule,” Armer said. “MBSR teaches patients new ways of thinking that will give them short- and long-term benefits.”
Armer says the non-pharmaceutical approach works best as a complement to other treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
“Post diagnosis, breast cancer patients often feel like they have no control over their lives,” Armer said. “Knowing that they can control something—such as meditation—and that it will improve their health, gives them hope that life will be normal again.”
The study, “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Health Among Breast Cancer Survivors,” was published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research.